On February 10, 2021, the Dortmund Regional Court set out principles for determining jurisdiction, specifically in competition damages litigation.[1]

Absent a collective redress regime for cartel damages in Germany, holders of damages claims often assign their claims to one single party to concentrate the enforcement of their damages claims in one proceeding. This type of bundling of claims is problematic where the assigned claims would fall within the jurisdiction of different courts if enforced separately. In the case before the Dortmund Regional Court, 30 entities had assigned their claims to the plaintiff. 22 of these claims did not fall within the jurisdiction of Dortmund Regional Court.

First, the Dortmund Regional Court repeated its prior ruling[2] that the place where the harm occurred does not extend to every place where the harmful consequences of an event may be felt, but the harm must result directly from the causal event.[3] A mere subsequent adverse consequence is not capable of giving rise to an allocation of jurisdiction. Applying these principles, the Dortmund Regional Court held that the harm occurred at the assignor’s place of business rather than at the plaintiff’s place of business.

Second, the Dortmund Regional Court took a pragmatic approach, which—if approved by appellate courts—could facilitate the collective enforcement of assigned cartel damages claims: it allowed plaintiffs to request a determination of a common court competent for all claims under Sec. 36 German Civil Procedure Rules (Zivilprozessordnung, “ZPO”) by the Court of Appeal. Although Sec. 36 ZPO applies to different defendants, the Dortmund Regional Court held that the provision is also applicable by analogy if a plaintiff files claims from multiply assignors against one defendant.

[1] Dortmund Regional Court decision (8 O 15/18 Kart) of February 10, 2021, only available in German here.

[2] Gerichtszuständigkeit bei abgetretenem Schadensersatzanspruch (8 O 42/18), Dortmund Regional Court decision of September 9, 2020, only available in German here.

[3] The reasoning is in line with the CJEU’s case law in relation to Article 7 no. 2 of the Brussels Ia. See for example flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines (Case C-27/17), CJEU decision of July 5, 2018, available in English here.