08 June 2020

Hausfeld pairs up with Madrid firm to target milk cartel damages claims

Lianne Craig

Lianne Craig: 'The Milk Cartel case is a legally compelling case'

International claimant litigation specialist identifies Spain as 'new frontier' for competition claims

Hausfeld has expanded its international footprint into the Iberian Peninsula with the announcement of an innovative collaboration with Spanish independent Eskariam. 

The two firms will work together on joint follow-on litigation in relation to the 2019 Spanish milk cartel, which saw Spanish competition regulators fine ten cartelists, including leading international brands Danone and Nestlé, a total of € 80m, for their involvement in an illegal cartel that lasted thirteen years from 2000 onwards. 

The regulator found that both Spanish and international milk companies had exchanged information on a range of commercially inappropriate areas, including purchase prices, purchase volumes and milk surpluses – ensuring that the price of milk was massaged by between 10-12% at any one time.

While Hausfeld’s UK arm, which launched in 2009, collaborated informally with Cuatrecasas on the EU-wide Visa/Mastercard credit card ‘interchange fee’ litigation, this is the first time that it has formally agreed cooperation with a fellow claimant law firm on a purely Spanish litigation matter. 

Both firms have developed their claimant competition litigation practices, following reforms to EU and UK and Spanish law which enable stronger public recourse to class action claims for damages for breaches of competition law.

Hausfeld is active in a number of collective redress actions, including the foreign exchange spot fixing cartel against Barclays, Citibank, RBS and others, while the firm’s Dutch and German offices are active, with UK colleagues, in claims following the European Commission’s findings in the Trucks Cartel case involving more than 9,000 clients.

Lianne Craig, head of Hausfeld’s commercial disputes team, said: “We see Spain as one of the next frontiers for competition damages claims in Europe.

"The Milk Cartel case is a legally compelling case that will be highly significant both in terms of the overall damages being sought by the farmers and the potential to further shape the developing landscape for cartel damages claims in Spain.”

Noting that both firms shared a commercial and creative mind-set, Craig, a fluent Spanish speaker, said that Hausfeld would add its international experience to Eskariam’s extensive local knowledge; while Eskariam’s IT resources would make it easy for Spanish clients to file their claims appropriately.

Spain’s first experience of follow-on claims came as a direct result of the decision in the Trucks Cartel claim; since then there has been strong interest in bringing damages actions, particularly following national implementation of the 2014 EU Damages Directive.

David Fernández Sánchez, CEO of Eskariam, said the case presented “a unique opportunity for many thousands of Spanish dairy farmers to be compensated for the significant harm they have suffered at the hands of the cartelist dairy companies,” and praised Hausfeld’s “exemplary track record in European cartel damages claims”.

The firms have jointly instructed economic consulting firm, Compass Lexecon to assess quantum issues. 

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