On November 14, 2019, the Court of Justice dismissed an appeal brought by Silec Cable.[1] In particular, the Court rejected Silec’s claims that the General Court had (i) incorrectly interpreted the content of its email communications as evidencing its involvement in the cartel; (ii) erroneously applied the legal test of public distancing from the cartel (i.e., Silec was not required to distance itself as it did not participate in any meetings); and (iii) wrongly denied them a ‘fringe player’ status, compared to another cartel participant, refusing to grant a fine reduction on this basis.

The Court of Justice noted that public distancing is only significant if the undertaking’s conduct included participation in collusive meetings. Where a cartel operated through other means, the failure to publicly distance oneself is only one of the factors relevant for the assessment of an undertaking’s involvement in the cartel and its duration. The General Court found that such an assessment had been carried out in Silec’s case. In particular, not only did Silec fail to publicly distance itself from the cartel, but the Commission also had other evidence, including email communications, demonstrating their involvement in the cartel.

Further, the Court of Justice found that the General Court had correctly denied Silec’s characterization of a “fringe player.” Instead, the Court of Justice agreed that Silec had participated individually in the cartel, which was evident from Silec’s direct email communications. The Court of Justice, therefore, in line with its judgments in most of the Power Cables cartel appeals, dismissed Silec’s appeal in its entirety.

[1]      Silec Cable SAS and General Cable Corp. v. Commission (Case T-438/14) EU:T:2018:447, upheld on appeal in Silec Cable and General Cable v. Commission (Case C-599/18 P) EU:C:2019:966.