The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court has sentenced the drugstore chain Rossmann to a fine of 20 million euros for its participation in a coffee cartel. In the opinion of the 1st Cartel Senate, Dirk Rossmann GmbH was guilty of an intentional antitrust violation, a court spokeswoman said on Monday. The verdict had already been announced on Friday, but is not yet final.
The background: In 2015, the Federal Cartel Office imposed a fine of 5.25 million euros on Rossmann for illegal vertical price fixing in the sale of roasted coffee. Between 2004 and 2008, a coffee roaster and various traders are said to have agreed on the selling price of filter coffee in particular.
However, the company had filed a lawsuit against the Cartel Office decision. In the following proceedings, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court increased the fine to 30 million euros in 2018, which led to a legal exchange of blows that lasted for years. The case even occupied the Federal Court of Justice twice.
In the new main hearing before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, which became necessary due to a BGH decision, an agreement was reached between the parties so that the court was essentially able to limit itself to the sentencing.
In its decision to impose a fine of 20 million euros, the court also took into account the fact that Dirk Rossmann GmbH was not the driving force behind and in the cartel, in addition to the fact that the proceedings have now lasted more than twelve years, said the court spokeswoman. Compared to other trading companies involved in the cartel, Rossmann is only of lesser importance in the German coffee sales to end consumers. The fine is therefore in the lower range of the framework under consideration.
The Düsseldorf Attorney General, the Federal Cartel Office and Rossmann can still appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Justice.