Today, 26 January 2022, the General Court has annulled the entirety of the article of the contested European Commission decision which imposed a €1.06 billion fine on Intel. The Court holds that the Commission’s analysis was incomplete and does not make it possible to establish to the requisite legal standard that the rebates at issue were capable of having, or likely to have, anticompetitive effects.
The case (T-286/09 RENV) was a remittal back to the General Court following Intel’s successful appeal to the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (C-413/14 P), which set aside an earlier General Court judgment and clarified the legal framework to be applied in Article 102 TFEU cases.
The case is a highly important one with significant ramifications for the proper approach to the assessment of alleged abuses of dominance under both European and domestic competition law rules. In particular, it clarifies the role and application of the As-Efficient Competitor test (the AEC test); the conditions which the Commission must assess when considering the capability of rebates to restrict competition; the burden of proof and the standard of proof in abuse of dominance cases; and the impact of CJEU judgments which quash earlier General Court Judgments.