If you are a company victim of anticompetitive conduct (cartel, abuse of dominant position), several legal actions are possible:
(1) You can first lodge a complaint to the French Competition Authority on the basis of the model below:
Source : Autorité de la concurrence
A complaint to the Competition Authority will, as a general rule, be preferred where the practice in question is limited to the national territory.
(2) For anticompetitive practices at the local level, it is also possible to notify the Directorate General of Competition for Consumption and the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF)*. An online contact procedure is available.
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(3) You can also apply to the European Commission in particular where the practice at stake has an impact in several European countries.
The complaint is made on the basis of Form C (below). An online procedure is also possible.
If the complaint is followed by an investigation, it can lead to a fine being imposed on the company (or the companies) which has / have implemented the illegal practices. The fine can be up to 10% of the consolidated global turnover.
Interim measures may also be imposed by the authority and in some cases, undertakings, from which you may indirectly benefit as a complainant.
However, you will not obtain any compensation for your loss before the Competition Authority or the European Commission, which will simply impose an administrative fine as a result of the illegal conduct. Only national courts are competent to award damages as a result of your prejudice as a victim.
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(4) You can therefore take action and bring a damage claim to the competent national courts in order to obtain compensation for your loss.
Such action is made by way of summons (assignation).
It will be necessary to prove the fault (that is, to prove the anti-competitive practice), the harm suffered and the causal link.
The proof of the fault will be all the easier to establish in case of prior decision from a competition authority having already imposed a fine for the practice of which you consider yourself victim (i.e. a follow-on action). The fault and the harm suffered (in case of cartels) will in such event be presumed.
A stand-alone action (that is to say in the absence of a prior decision) is also possible, but the result is more uncertain. It should be stressed that a large number of actions for damages are terminated with the conclusion of a settlement agreement between the parties.
(5) If you are not a victim but the perpetrator of an anti-competitive practice, you may seek immunity or a reduction of the fine proactively by filing a leniency application. Such a request may be made to the European Commission or any other national competition authority, such as the French Competition Authority.
(6) If you are a supplier, customer or competitor of a company that is party to a corporate transaction (M&A, Joint-Venture) you have the possibility to intervene during the merger control procedure before the competition authority in charge of the review of the transaction by submitting any type of document with the objective to demonstrate the future negative effect of the transaction on the market.
* In practice it will be the regional branches of the DGCCRF (the so called DIRECCTE) in metropolitan France, and the DIECCTE in overseas territories.