On 9 October 2014, the Court of Justice dismissed the appeal lodged by Industries Chimiques du Fluor ("ICF") against the judgment of 18 June 2013, in which the General Court ("GC") rejected its application for annulment of the Commission's decision concerning a worldwide price-fixing and market-sharing cartel on the aluminum fluoride market. Two legal points merit attention.
First, in the second ground of appeal, ICF criticized the GC for having misinterpreted paragraph 18 of the 2006 Guidelines on the method of setting fines. The GC interpreted the expression "the total value of the sales of the goods or services to which the infringement relates" as covering only the total value of the sales of the undertakings which participated in the infringement, and not as the total value of sales on that market. This is one of the first cases where the Court of Justice had to rule on that paragraph of the Guidelines.
The Court of Justice rejected the interpretation proposed by ICF, considering that it follows both from the text and the scheme of paragraph 18, as well as from the general scheme of the Guidelines that the expression "the total value of the sales of the goods or services to which the infringement relates" should be interpreted as referring to the total value of the sales of the undertakings having participated in the infringement, and not to the total value of the sales of all the undertakings active on the market upon which the undertakings concerned committed the infringement.
Second, the Court of Justice expressly recognized, in the line with its Gascogne case-law, that the excessive length of the proceedings before the GC (i.e., approximately 5 years), is a violation of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, the Court also confirmed that in order to obtain a compensation for the damage caused by such a violation, ICF should introduce an action for damages before the GC, adding that such a compensation cannot be directly obtained from the Court of Justice through an appeal against the judgment which was not given by the GC in a reasonable period of time.