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Spain: National Court strikes down CNMC fines on dairy industry cartel

 |  November 5, 2018

The National Court of Spain has struck down fines totalling 88 million euros set by the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) on a number of dairy companies for alleged exchanges of information and the distribution of raw cow’s milk. The court cited errors in procedure as motivating the annullment.

The court said in its ruling that the CNMC has the option of re-taking the process as it was in April 2014 and, either end with a new resolution to sanction, or scrap it “according to the assessment of the evidence and the arguments of the parties that the CNMC carries out with full freedom of judgment “.

The matter goes back to the disciplinary proceedings and the imposition of fines established by the Competition Directorate of the CNMC. The affected companies were Lactalis Iberia Group, Peñasanta Food Corporation, Danone, Puleva, Leche Pascual Group, Nestlé, Cooperativa Agrícola y Ganadera del Pirineo, Gremio de Industrias Lácteas de Cataluña and Asociacion de Empresas Lácteas de Galicia. Subsequently, it was agreed to extend the disciplinary proceedings to a number of other dairy companies.

One month after this extension, the Competition Directorate of the CNMC decided to modify the accusations after having detected a “material error” in relation to the liability of some of these companies, one of them Nestlé, for which it decided to appeal to the Contentious Chamber of the National Court and then before the Supreme Court.

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