Subsidiary companies, and presumably sister companies as well, can be held liable to pay damages for the EU competition law infringements committed by their parent companies. In its judgement of 6 October 2021, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice shed light on the EU autonomous concept of ‘undertaking’. The undertaking as a whole, meeting the characteristics of an economic unit, is to be considered personally liable for the actions of its different components. This automatically entails the joint and several liability among the legal and/or other entities that make up the economic unit at the time of the infringement.
More than two and a half years have passed since a previous blogpost explained how the judgement of the European Court of Justice of 14 March 2019 applied the autonomous EU concept of ‘undertaking’ to the private enforcement of EU competition law. As a result of this judgement, both the principles of parental liability and economic continuity became applicable when claiming damages for an infringement of the EU competition rules. The economic reality thus caught up with the legal matrix.