On July 29, 2019, the Court of Justice confirmed that the Hungarian courts had jurisdiction to rule on damages claims brought by Tibor-Trans Fuvarozó és Kereskedelmi Kft. (“Tibor-Trans”), a Hungarian logistics company, against DAF Trucks N.V. (“DAF”), one of the members of the EU-wide trucks cartel.[1] The Court of Justice clarified that cartel victims may claim damages in any Member State affected by a cartel, even where they had no direct contractual relationship with the cartelists.


In a June 2016 decision, the Commission fined five international trucks manufacturers (including DAF) €2.96 billion for price fixing and other anticompetitive behavior over a 14-year time- period.[2] Tibor-Trans, which purchased DAF trucks during that time period, brought a follow-on damages claim against DAF in Hungary, even though the cartel discussions took place outside Hungary and Tibor-Trans never had a direct contractual relationship with DAF, as it bought its trucks from local Hungarian dealerships.

After the Hungarian lower court refused jurisdiction, the appeal court referred a preliminary question to the Court of Justice, asking if the Hungarian courts have jurisdiction based on Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Recast Regulation, which provides that “[a] person domiciled in a Member State may be sued in another Member State […] in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict, in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred.”[3]

Court of Justice judgment

The Court of Justice, referring to its previous decision in flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines, noted that the “place where the harmful event occurred” cannot be interpreted so widely as to encompass any place where the adverse consequences of an event can be felt.[4]

The Court of Justice held that the damage alleged by Tibor-Trans resulted from the additional costs passed on to Tibor-Trans by Hungarian dealerships that purchased directly from the cartelists, and was therefore “the immediate consequence of [the cartel] and thus constitutes direct damage which, in principle, provides a basis for the jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State in which it occurred.”[5]

The Court of Justice observed that it was clear from the Commission decision that the trucks cartel had distorted competition across the entire EEA, of which Hungary is a member. It concluded on this basis that Hungary “must be regarded as the place where the damage occurred for the purposes of applying Article 7(2) of [the Brussels I Recast Regulation].”[6]

In other words, the Court of Justice confirmed that an indirect purchaser of a cartelized product may sue the cartelists directly before the courts of the Member State where the product was purchased— assuming the prices in that Member State were affected by the cartel.

[1]      Tibor-Trans v. DAF (Case C-451/18) EU:C:2019:635.

[2]      Trucks (Case COMP/AT.39824), Commission decision of July 19, 2016.

[3]      Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, OJ L 351/1.

[4]      flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines (Case C-27/17) EU:C:2018:533, para. 32.

[5]      Tibor-Trans v. DAF (Case C-451/18) EU:C:2019:635, para. 31.

[6]      Tibor-Trans v. DAF (Case C-451/18) EU:C:2019:635, para. 33.