Deutsche Telekom wins legal battle for refund of EU interest for violating antitrust rules

Deutsche Telekom won a significant legal victory on Tuesday after the European Union’s Supreme Court ruled in its favor, requiring EU antitrust regulators to pay interest on the refunded portion of the fine. The ruling could set a positive precedent for other companies with similar claims, including Intel, which is pursuing a claim of 593 million euros ($638 million), according to a Reuters report.

In recent years, many companies have sought compensation for late payment interest on fines related to overturned antitrust cases, with the total amount of claims amounting to approximately EUR 800 million. The Intel case is the most prominent among them and underscores the widespread impact of the court’s decision.

The case dates back to 2014, when the European Commission imposed a fine of EUR 31 million on Deutsche Telekom for charging unfair wholesale prices in Slovakia. A lower court later reduced this penalty to EUR 19 million and ordered the Commission to pay interest of approximately EUR 1.8 million. However, the EU competition enforcement authority initially repaid the difference but did not include interest for the period between payment and refund.

Read more: The EU Court ruled that the Slovak company Deutsche Telekom cannot avoid punishment

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), based in Luxembourg, sided with Deutsche Telekom, emphasizing that the European Commission must pay interest on the penalties it unduly imposed and temporarily collected. “The interest is intended to compensate, at the basic rate, the undertaking concerned for the loss of the use of the amount in question,” the judges said.

The judgment indicated that the applicable interest rate is the refinancing rate of the European Central Bank increased by 3.5 percentage points. A Commission spokesman confirmed the judgment, saying: “The Commission will carefully study the judgment and assess its consequences.”

Source: Reuters