JCB today expressed “extreme disappointment” after
a court ignored more than 20 years of bureaucratic errors in approving
JCB’s distribution agreements by the European Commission,
and upheld a fine against the company for competition infringements
in a period up to 1996. JCB believes the fine of €30.864 million
to be totally unjustified.
JCB 8250 Fastrac Tractor
In 1973, following the UK's accession to the Common Market, JCB
was one of the first British companies to comply with European
competition law and apply for exemption of all of its distribution
agreements. JCB amended those agreements on the advice of the Commission
and was led by the Commission to believe that they were in order.
However, 27 years later in 2000, the Commission issued a decision
rejecting JCB's application for exemption, even though JCB had
twice since, in 1980 and 1995, re-notified it of the agreements.
As a result the company was fined €39.614million for competition
infringements for a period up to 1996.
JCB appealed against the judgement and in 2004 the European Court
of First Instance upheld JCB’s appeal on a number of counts
and reduced the €39.614million fine by 25 per cent to €30million.
JCB launched a subsequent appeal to the European Court of Justice
to have all of the charges quashed, an appeal which has now been
The Court has agreed with JCB that this 27 year delay by the Commission
is "regrettable" and breaches the Commission’s
obligation under European law but decided that a 27 year delay
did not infringe JCB's fundamental rights, a decision with which
JCB strongly disagrees.
At no time did the Commission identify the economic impact of
the stated infringements in setting the fine which is on a vastly
inflated scale compared with those imposed on certain car manufacturers.
John Patterson, JCB Managing Director and CEO, said: “We
are very frustrated indeed that, after six years of pursuing this
action in the courts, the European Court of Justice has ignored
the failings of the Commission and found against us. The Commission
is not giving European industry the efficient and effective legal
framework it needs in order to compete globally.”
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