Formal sitting of the Court of Justice
Solemn undertaking before the Court of Justice of the European Union by seven new Members of the European Court of Auditors
Formal sitting of 10 March 2014
In accordance with the Treaties and after consulting the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, by decisions of 9 July 2013, 17 December 2013, 24 February 2014 and 27 February 2014, has appointed Mr Neven Mates (for the period from 15 July 2013 to 14 July 2019), Mr Alex Brenninkmeijer, Ms Danièle Lamarque, Messrs Nikolaos Milionis and Phil Wynn Owen (for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2019) and Messrs Klaus-Heiner Lehne and Oskar Herics (for the period from 1 March 2014 to 29 February 2020) as Members of the European Court of Auditors.
Today, at noon, the Court of Justice of the European Union held a formal sitting during which the new Members of the European Court of Auditors gave the solemn undertaking provided for in the Treaties.
The General Court reduces the fines imposed on Innolux and LG Display for their participation in the cartel on the market for LCD panels
Innolux’s fine is reduced from €300 million to €288 million and that of LG Display from €215 million to €210 million
By decision of 8 December 20101 the Commission imposed fines totalling €648.925 million on six Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. It found that they had operated a cartel between October 2001 and February 2006. LCD panels are the main component of flat screens used in televisions and electronic notebooks.
The largest fines – €300 million and €215 million – were imposed on Innolux and LG Display respectively.
Both companies have brought actions before the General Court seeking annulment of the Commission’s decision or, failing that, reduction of the fines2.
In today’s judgments, the Court rejects most of the arguments put forward by Innolux and LG Display and upholds the substance of the Commission’s decision. It does, however, slightly reduce the fines imposed on each of the companies.
The Court observes that Innolux had made errors when it provided the Commission with the data necessary for calculating the value of relevant sales in that it had included sales relating to products other than the LCD panels subject to the cartel. The Commission confirmed before the Court that those products should not have been included in the calculation. The errors arose because Innolux had not explained the specifications of certain LCD panels to the external specialist consultants that it had chosen to compile the data to be provided to the Commission.
As a result, the value of sales used by the Commission in setting the fine was too high. Accordingly, the Court, in the exercise of its unlimited jurisdiction, considers it appropriate to calculate the fine on the basis of the lower, corrected, sales value, even though Innolux was negligent when it provided the Commission with inaccurate data. That failure to act with due care does not give grounds for concluding that Innolux’s breach of its obligation to cooperate was such that it must be taken into account, to the detriment of Innolux, when the fine is set. Applying the same method as that used by the Commission in the decision, the recalculated fine amounts to €288 million instead of €300 million.
As regards LG Display, the Commission made only one error in setting the fine in that it took the month of January 2006 into account when calculating the average value of sales. As the Commission had, under the Leniency Notice3, granted LG Display partial immunity in respect of January 2006 for having provided information relating to the cartel, that period should have been excluded from every stage of the calculation of the fine. Thus, if January 2006 is excluded not only from the multiplier for the duration of the infringement, but also from the calculation of the average value of relevant sales, the fine imposed on LG Display must be reduced from €215 million to €210 million.