Cartel fine proceedings are booming. In 2014, the German Federal Cartel Authority (Bundeskartellamt) imposed a record fine of 1,010,000,000 euros, with more companies than ever affected by searches and investigations.

We are defence lawyers, not antitrust lawyers. The substantive antitrust law in German law (§§ 19 ff. GWB) and European law (see Art. 101 and Art. 102 TFEU) is better addressed by specialists in civil law firms. However, the procedures for prosecuting alleged cartel infringements are governed by the provisions of the OWiG, which in turn refers to the StPO. Thus, criminal procedural law applies and this is where we are the experts.

In cooperation with experienced antitrust lawyers, we bring procedural expertise to the cartel fine proceedings. This is of particular benefit to companies which, as so-called "collateral damage" in legal proceedings against individual persons, are in fact at the centre of the antitrust authorities' interest. With procedural know-how, company searches, if unavoidable, can be managed and dealt with. The cooperation between antitrust and criminal lawyers guarantees a "procedural strength" that optimizes the likelihood of a settlement with the Federal Cartel Office and the Attorney General's Office. The Cartel Senate of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court also knows that criminal procedural requirements make the main hearing a bottleneck through which many accusations from the Bundeskartellamt’s fine notices will not pass.

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