On 20 October 2016, Helsinki Court of Appeal published its decisions in the asphalt cartel damage trials. Merilampi represented one of the defendants, Skanska Asfaltti Oy. The claims against Skanska Asfaltti Oy brought by four municipalities were dismissed in their entirety. Regarding the four other claims, the amount of damages was substantially reduced. Skanska Asfaltti Oy’s share of the compensation to be paid to the municipalities is limited to approximately EUR 160 000 based on the division of joint liability between the defendants.
Regarding the state claim, the Court of Appeal ruled that it had not been shown that Tielaitos was aware of the competition infringements and of the participation of Tielaitos’ officers in causing the restrictions of competition. The Court of Appeal ordered Skanska Asfaltti Oy to compensate to the state of Finland a portion of the claimed damages — approximately EUR 1 million.
The decisions of the Helsinki Court of Appeal are not yet final because permission to appeal them before the Supreme Court may still be sought.
The Helsinki Court of Appeal stated that a part of the compensation claims had already expired. The Court of Appeal assessed the question of the expiration pursuant to the recent preliminary ruling of the Supreme Court (KKO 2016:11). The existence of the competition infringement was assessed by the Helsinki Court of Appeal based on the evidence given to it. The Court of Appeal took the view that, locally from 1994 and nationally at least from 1997 until March 2002, several asphalt companies had infringed the competition, which effected both the outcomes of the tenders and market price levels, causing damages to the buyers. Regarding the state claim, the Court of Appeal ruled that it had not been shown that Tielaitos was aware of the competition infringements and of the participation of Tielaitos’ officers in causing the restrictions of competition. Therefore, the state had not consented to the conduct or allowed the potential occurrence of damages.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the claims that were directed at companies, which were not a part of the competition infringement cartel but had, after the cartel period, acquired the business or share capital of companies involved in the cartel. Some of the claims were rejected due to the lack of the evidence of either the existence of the infringement or damages, or due to the lack of a causal link between the damages and the activities of the defendant company. For the reasons mentioned above, the Court of Appeal reduced the liability in most of the cases.