On 6 September 2017, the Supreme Court announced that it has granted a limited leave to appeal to the City of Vantaa and Lemminkäinen Plc in the damages cases related to the asphalt cartel.
The damages cases brought in the matter were complex, and the District Court of Helsinki and the Helsinki Court of Appeal handled several issues concerning, for example, whether a decision given in an administrative process is binding in the subsequent damages case, grounds for claims, joint and several liability, limitation of claims, interest claims, preclusion, economic succession, value added taxes and the causation and amount of damages.
The leave to appeal granted to the City of Vantaa concerns whether Skanska Asfaltti Oy, NCC Industry Oy and Asfaltmix Oy were liable towards the City because they had acquired businesses from companies involved in the cartel. The legal question is whether the principle of economic succession that is applied to administrative penalty payments can also be applied in a damages case.
Lemminkäinen Plc was granted leave to appeal in the cases brought by the Cities of Mikkeli and Rovaniemi. The leave to appeal concerns the question whether Lemminkäinen’s liabilities have decreased because the claims made against the other asphalt companies in those cases were time-barred.
In total, 27 parties applied for leave to appeal: the State of Finland, 21 cities or municipalities, 4 asphalt companies and the bankruptcy estate of VLT Trading Oy.
Furthermore, there were in total 47 pending applications for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court. Twenty-three were dismissed altogether. The other applications for leave to appeal will await the decisions to be rendered in the cases where leave to appeal was granted.
In the matter concerning the State of Finland, Lemminkäinen Plc, Skanska Asfaltti Oy, the bankruptcy estate of VLT Trading Oy and the State withdrew their applications for leave to appeal and the application of SA Capital Oy was dismissed. Thus, the judgment by the Court of Appeal became final.
In 2009, the Supreme Administrative Court imposed penalty payments on asphalt companies. Based on that, the State of Finland and several cities and municipalities brought damages claims against the companies in the District Court of Helsinki and the Helsinki Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal dismissed a part of the cases accepted by the District Court and decreased the amounts of compensation awarded by the District Court.
Currently, there are still several damages cases concerning the asphalt cartel in the District Court of Helsinki waiting to be handled. In those cases, the claimants include cities, municipalities and private companies.