Linklaters’ Paris office slashes Arcelor cartel fine by 90 per cent

Linklaters’ Paris office has scored a victory in the French Court of Appeal, ­acting for three subsidiaries of steel giant ArcelorMittal to reduce the fine the company received for acting in a cartel by almost 90 per cent.

Paris competition partner Anne Wachsmann led on the case for the magic circle firm, reducing ­Arcelor-Mittal’s fine from e302m (£264.12m) to e42m.

The case saw eight of the 11 steel distribution companies that were fined in December 2008 challenge the scale of the punishment. The total fines of e575m were reduced to e72m after the appeal.

Wachsmann said the extent of the reduction came as a big surprise to those involved.

“Although we put forward a broad argument, we didn’t expect so strong a decision,” she said. “Most of the time you might gain a few per cent in cartel cases, but something like this was totally unexpected.”

The court ruled that the level of fines should be based on the turnover of the ­individual companies that were found to have acted as a cartel, not on that of their parent groups.

Wachsmann added: “The approach of the court was rather original, with a focus on the turnover of the ­company rather than the group. It’s a huge change.”

French firm Bredin Prat also acted for the ArcelorMittal subsidiaries, with competition partner Hugues Calvet leading.

Firms acting for the co-appellants included Emo Hebert Associés, Jeantet Associés and CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre.