Court of Frankfurt/M. has dismissed the action for damages brought by DB against Czech steel producer Moravia Steel

Court of Frankfurt/M. has dismissed the action for damages brought by DB against Czech steel producer Moravia Steel
@Deutsche Bahn AG / Volker Emersleben

Frankfurt's regional court made this decision on the grounds that it is time-barred.

DB companies (e.g. DB Netz AG and others) will appeal against the judgment of the Frankfurt/Main Regional Court on 3 August 2022 due to serious errors in the facts of the case and the legal assessment.

The court assumes that DB employees could have discovered the rail cartel as early as 2007, i.e. five years before the Federal Cartel Office, and only failed to recognize it due to gross negligence.  

DB firmly rejects this accusation:

"Even the companies only recognized the violations committed by their employees in 2011 - and that only because a key witness from among the cartel participants drew the attention of the Federal Cartel Office and the prosecuting authorities to the cartel," DB claims. 

The Federal Cartel Office imposed fines totalling EUR 134.5 million on Moravia Steel and other cartel participants in 2012 and 2013. In December 2012, DB brought an action for damages of several hundred million euros before the Frankfurt/Main Regional Court.

DB was successful in reaching early settlements with the steel manufacturers ThyssenKrupp, Voestalpine and Stahlberg Roensch for high damages payments. The largest share of this has flowed into the federal budget.

Czech steel and rail manufacturer Moravia A.S. was represented in this claim by the law firm Clifford Chance which declared:

"The other companies accused in this case were Moravia Deutschland GmbH, Stahlberg Roensch GmbH and Constantin Stahlberg, the former owner of Stahlberg Roensch Group. The proceedings began in 2014. Due to pricing and quota arrangements for agreements on the supply of rail tracks, several companies belonging to Germany's national railway operator, Deutsche Bahn, filed claims totaling EUR 500 million plus interest. Over recent years, Deutsche Bahn had already reached settlements with various companies out of court about the rail cartel, but claims totaling over EUR 200 million were still filed," law firm says and adds:

"Frankfurt Regional Court then dismissed the action on 3 August 2022. The defendants argued that Deutsche Bahn was aware of the arrangements or must have been aware of them and tolerated them. The court followed this line of argument in the grounds for its ruling and dismissed the claims as having become statute-barred – without addressing the question of whether the Deutsche Bahn companies actually had any claims against Moravia Steel."

However, DB insists on demanding compensation: "DB is not only asserting its own claims for damages but is also demanding compensation for the damage caused by the funding agencies. The rail procurements were predominantly financed with funds from the federal government and other funding bodies," concludes DB their statement.

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