White & Case obtains total annulment of EC inspection decision for Intermarché Casino Achats

Press Release
2 min read

Global law firm White & Case LLP has successfully represented Intermarché Casino Achats, the joint purchasing venture between Casino and Intermarché, in an appeal against a decision of the European Commission (EC) to order inspections at premises of Intermarché Casino Achats and its parent companies Casino and Intermarché.

"We very much welcome the court's judgment, which comes as a reminder of the importance for the EC to respect the rights of defense of companies in competition cases," said White & Case partner Yann Utzschneider, who co-led the Firm's team. "This case is another example of White & Case's commitment to defending its clients' fundamental rights and ensure the respect of due process in competition cases."

The EC suspected that the companies had participated in two infringements of Article 101 in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by sharing sensitive and confidential business information concerning future commercial strategies and discounts obtained on the supply markets of certain everyday consumer products, and the market prices for the sale of services to manufacturers of branded products.

On October 5, 2020 the General Court of the European Union (EU) annulled in part the inspection decision, ruling that the EC had failed to show that it had sufficiently strong evidence of the first infringement.

In its judgment of March 9, 2023 the EU's Court of Justice ruled that, regarding the only remaining infringement following the judgment of the General Court, the EC had failed to fulfil its obligation to record the interviews it conducted with suppliers to collect information relating to its investigation. In the absence of valid evidence justifying the inspection, the EU's Court of Justice ruled that the inspection was illegal and annulled the EC's decision in its entirety.

The White & Case team which advised Intermarché Casino Achats was led by partners Yann Utzschneider (Paris) and Jérémie Jourdan (Brussels & Paris) and included counsel Costanza Mussi (Paris & Milan) and associate Fanny Abouzeid (Brussels & Paris). The Casino legal team was led by group general counsel Jean-Yves Haagen and Esther Bitton, former legal director, competition. The Intermarché legal team was led by group legal director Xavier Vallad and Gilles Rota, legal director, trade-distribution.

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