Helsinki District Court dismissed Metsähallitus’ claims for damages for infringement of competition law against Metsäliitto Cooperative and other forestry companies

HPP successfully represented Metsäliitto Cooperative (parent company of Metsä Group) in a competition infringement damages case brought by Metsähallitus against Metsäliitto Cooperative, Stora Enso Ltd and UPM-Kymmene Ltd. The case is one of the largest competition infringement damages cases heard in the Finnish courts. In its claim filed in 2011, Metsähallitus claimed a capital amount of nearly 160 million euros in damages jointly and severally from the forestry companies. In addition, Metsähallitus claimed profit and penalty interest on the capital and compensation of its legal expenses, which increased the amount of Metsähallitus’ overall claim significantly. Metsähallitus’ claim was based on the Market Court’s decision given in 2009, whereby Metsäliitto, Stora Enso and UPM-Kymmene were found to have acted in a manner prohibited by the Competition Infringement Act on the Finnish roundwood market during 1997-2004.

In its decision of 22 June 2016, the Helsinki District Court dismissed Metsähallitus’ claim in its entirety and ordered Metsähallitus to compensate the forestry companies’ legal costs in full. The District Court also considered the Finnish Supreme Court’s ruling KKO 2016:11, based on which some of the claims presented by Metsähallitus were dismissed as being statue barred.

As is customary for damages claims relating to competition infringements, the District Court was presented with a significant amount of economic expert evidence and other evidence. The District Court considered in its judgment that the forestry companies’ prohibited information exchange had not been proven to have caused Metsähallitus damage in the form of underpriced round wood either during or after the competition infringement.

HPP’s team was led by Partners Jörgen Hammarström and Vesa Silaskivi. In addition, the team included Senior Associate Julia Pekkala, Senior Associate Markus Hamro-Drotz, Senior Associate Lasse Luoma, Associate Anu Ala-Outinen and Associate Jesse Viljanen.

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