Record antitrust fines reversed

Eight Spanish insurance companies have won their appeal against a €120m fine for price fixing; successfully overturning the highest fines ever issued in Spain for cartel activity.

The fine was levelled against Asefa, Caser, Mapfre Empresas, Mapfre Re, Scor, Suiza Ibérica, Swiss Re and Múnchener by the Spanish Competition Commission – Comisión Nacional de la Competencia (CNC) – in 2009 over fixing insurance prices. Three of the companies – Caser, Scor and Múnchener – appealed to the Audiencia Nacional, which annulled the decision saying there was not enough evidence.
The decision has attracted attention as it is not only a rare occurrence of a CNC reversal but also as the fine was the largest ever issued. The fact that the reversal was based on the nature of the case itself rather than an issue with process or severity of sanction is seen as significant by lawyers. The case could still take another twist, however, as the CNC is now appealing to the Spanish Supreme Court.