Distribution of new cars – Volkswagen and Skoda achieve closure of antitrust proceedings with Noerr’s help
From its Brussels office, Noerr has successfully represented Volkswagen AG and Skoda Auto Deutschland GmbH in antitrust proceedings for allegedly impeding the cross-border distribution of new cars. The Luxembourg competition authority has now discontinued the antitrust proceedings it had initiated in 2016.
The Luxembourg competition authority concluded that a bonus system initially objected to by it did not hinder the cross-border distribution of new cars and did not fall within the scope of cartel prohibition for other reasons either. In its discontinuation decision of 8 June 2021 , the authority essentially followed the arguments put forward by Noerr in the proceedings.
The specific accusation made by the authority was that the parties had made the sale of new cars abroad more difficult by making bonus payments for the sale of new cars conditional on a (German) car registration certificate. VW and Skoda successfully defended themselves against the accusations and, with the help of Noerr, were able to convince the authority that the facts it had established could not support the accusation of either an intended or actual restriction of competition. In fact, the terms of the bonus system do not affect the cross-border distribution of new cars, as the bonus is in no way conditional on a German registration certificate and also does not fall within the scope of application of the cartel prohibition for other reasons.
The proceedings were jointly managed from Noerr’s Brussels office by Dominik Wendel (Automotive & New Mobility) and Fabian Hübener (Antitrust & Competition). Dominik Wendel, who has been co-head of the Brussels office for many years, is a leading expert in the field of automotive distribution and works at the interface with antitrust law. Fabian Hübener has extensive experience in defending clients in antitrust proceedings and most recently successfully acted in a purchasing cartel case before the EU Commission. Noerr was supported by Vincent Wellens of NautaDutilh in the regulatory proceedings before the competition authority in Luxembourg.