Early this month, the German Federal Supreme Court (BGH) published its judgment in the appeal filed by Melitta Europa GmbH & Co. (Melitta Europa) against the 2014 judgment of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (OLG). The OLG confirmed a 55 million euro fine imposed in 2009 by the German Federal Cartel Office on Melitta Kaffee, finding that, economically, Melitta Europa was Melitta Kaffee’s legal successor and, as such, was liable to pay the fine.

The BGH affirmed the OLG’s ruling, finding that Melitta Europa had taken over all of Melitta Kaffee’s assets and continued to operate Melitta Kaffee’s coffee business from the same locations, under the same management and with the same staff. Further, it found that Melitta Europa achieves more than half of its sales and most of its profits from the predecessor’s coffee business, and Melitta Kaffee’s assets represent a significant part of Melitta Europa’s business. Given this, the BGH concluded that Melitta Europa was the economic successor to Melitta Kaffee.

The BGH’s guidance regarding the treatment of successor liability in case of restructuring has been overtaken by legislation. The 8th Amendment to the Act against Restraints of Competition, which came into force on 30 June 2013, closed the loopholes in the old legislation that allowed undertakings to circumvent cartel fines through corporate restructuring.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Miranda Cole Miranda Cole

Miranda Cole is a partner based in the firm’s Brussels office.  She practices competition and communications law and policy, and has more than 15 years of experience in the field.  Ms. Cole’s competition law expertise encompasses merger control, actions under Articles 101 and…

Miranda Cole is a partner based in the firm’s Brussels office.  She practices competition and communications law and policy, and has more than 15 years of experience in the field.  Ms. Cole’s competition law expertise encompasses merger control, actions under Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, advisory work and actions before the European courts in Luxembourg.

She has particular expertise in advising companies active in the technology and communications sectors in complex and strategic regulatory and policy matters, with particular expertise regarding the impact of evolving regulatory frameworks on new technologies and services.  In the communications sector she has extensive experience advising in connection with all aspects of European and international regulation, policy and competition law, and counselling in connection with the impact of regulation on transactions.