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DB appeals against the decision of the Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main in the case against Moravia Steel. What is it about?

DB appeals against the decision of the Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main in the case against Moravia Steel. What is it about?
photo: Deutsche Bahn/DB appeals against the decision of the Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main in the case against Moravia Steel. What is it about?
16 / 08 / 2022

DB companies will appeal against the judgement of the Frankfurt/Main Regional Court on 3 August 2022 due to grave errors in the facts of the case and the legal assessment.

The Frankfurt/Main Regional Court dismissed the action for damages brought by DB Netz AG and other DB companies against Moravia Steel, a Czech steel manufacturer, and other companies because it was time-barred. The court assumes that DB employees could have discovered the rail cartel in 2007, i.e., five years before the Federal Cartel Office, and only failed to recognise it due to gross negligence.

DB firmly rejects this accusation. Even the companies involved in the cartel did not recognise the violations committed by their employees until 2011, and even then, only because a key witness from among the cartel participants drew the attention of the Federal Cartel Office and the prosecuting authorities to the cartel.

Between 2001 and 2010/11, several rail suppliers had illegally agreed on delivery quotas and prices for rail deliveries to DB. The Bundeskartellamt imposed fines totalling EUR 134.5 million on Moravia Steel and other cartelists in 2012 and 2013. In December 2012, DB brought an action for several hundred million euros worth of damages before the Frankfurt/Main Regional Court.

DB successfully reached early settlements with the steel manufacturers ThyssenKrupp, Voestalpine and Stahlberg Roensch for high damages payments. The largest share of these went into the federal budget.

The fact is: the companies organised the cartel at great expense, carried it out, kept it secret using methods of organised crime and enriched themselves in the process. All the other cartelists have recognised this. Only Moravia Steel continues to evade its responsibility here. Of DB's original claims for damages of 376 million euros plus interest, claims against the supplier Moravia of 133 million euros plus interest are still outstanding.

The ruling of 3 August 2022 is in blatant contradiction to the case law of the Federal Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice. For example, the BGH case law, according to which damages from individual procurement transactions are to be assessed as independent claims under statute of limitations law, is not applied; according to this, at least claims from the year 2008 would not be statute-barred.

Should the ruling stand, taxpayers (grantors) would be burdened, and companies involved in the cartel would be favoured. It is because the first-instance ruling reverses the roles of perpetrators and victims.

DB is not only asserting its claims for damages but is also demanding compensation for the damage suffered by the funders. The rail procurements were predominantly financed with funds from the federal government and other donors.

 

Source: Deutsche Bahn Press Releases

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