Last reviewed 22 April 2014

The European Parliament has approved a draft directive intended to help businesses claim damages if they are victims of unfair trading practices such as cartels and abuses of dominant market positions.

The proposal aims to remove a number of practical difficulties that victims face when they try to obtain compensation for the harm they have suffered.

In particular, it will give victims easier access to evidence they need to prove the damage and more time to make their claims.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said: "The directive will help to make the right to full compensation a reality in the EU, by removing the practical obstacles that victims face today. When it is adopted and implemented, obtaining redress will become easier for them, especially after a competition authority has found and sanctioned an infringement."

National courts will be able to order companies to disclose evidence when victims claim compensation. The courts will however ensure that such disclosure orders are proportionate and that confidential information is protected.

Victims will have at least one year to claim damages, once an infringement decision by a competition authority has become final, and that decision will automatically constitute proof of wrong-doing before courts of the same Member State in which the infringement occurred.

The aim is for those who have suffered as a result of others’ unfair practices to be able to claim full compensation, including lost profits and interest.

Once the Directive has been officially adopted, expected before the summer, Member States will have two years to implement the provisions in their legal systems.