BRUSSELS, June 24 – The European Commission sued four lift makers on Tuesday before a Brussels commercial court for running a cartel, eager to set an example for consumers and businesses that suffer from such illegal clubs.
In an unprecedented move, the commission said it was seeking damages from Otis, Schindler, ThyssenKrupp and Kone for inflating installation and maintenance prices for lifts and escalators in its buildings.
The amount of the damages sought has yet to be determined during the case.
As Europe\’s top competition watchdog, the commission fined the four companies nearly a billion euros in February 2007 for operating a cartel in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands between 1995 and 2004.
"The commission is doing its utmost to encourage and facilitate actions for damages before national courts by victims of anticompetitive behaviour. In this case, we are leading by example," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
The commission, which has made cracking down on cartels a top priority, wants to encourage consumers and businesses to sue companies caught colluding to fix prices and carve up markets.
In April it unveiled plans to give consumers and businesses greater powers to seek damages from companies because until now they have had little legal recourse in many member states in such cases, unlike in the United States.