BASE obtains favorable decision in claim against Belgacom Mobile for abuse of dominant position
Clients Base N.V.
On behalf of Dutch-based telecommunications operator KPN and its subsidiary BASE, Jones Day challenged abuses by Belgacom Group of its dominant position, which had radically distorted the competitive environment in the Belgian telecommunications market. The Belgian Competition Council in May 2009 issued a favorable decision (Decision 2009-P/K-10), ruling that incumbent Belgacom Mobile had abused its dominant position to preclude BASE and other competitors from operating in the business market in 2004-2005, and imposed a €66.3 million fine (its highest ever). This milestone case recognizes the abusive nature of low on-net prices in the corporate segment of the market for mobile telephony services.
Parallel private damages actions challenge similar practices in residential and corporate segments before the Belgian commercial courts. These courts issued rulings with regard to the residential segment, ordering an expert evaluation (still underway) to assess the damages incurred.
Jones Day also has represented KPN in other cases challenging incumbent mobile telephone operators' illegal practices restricting competition in Belgium, Spain, and Germany. This complex representation has involved developing novel arguments on the application of the notions of price squeeze and anticompetitive network effects to incumbents' on-net retail practices.