IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cartel damages claims and the passing-on defense


  • Frank Verboven
  • Theon Van Dijk


We develop a general economic framework for computing cartel damages claims by purchaser plaintiffs. We decompose the lost profits from the cartel in three parts: the direct cost effect (or anticompetitive price overcharge), the pass-on effect and the usually neglected output effect. The pass-on effect is the extent to which the plaintiff passes on the price overcharge by raising its own price, and the output effect is the lost business resulting from this passing-on. We subsequently introduce various models of imperfect competition for the plaintiffs industry. This enables us to evaluate the relative importance of the cost, pass-on and output effects. We show that an adjusted passing-on defense (i.e. accounting for the output effect) is justified under a wide variety of circumstances, provided that sufficiently many .firms in the plaintiff’s market are affected by the cartel. We derive exact discounts to the direct cost effect, which depend on relatively easy-to-observe variables, such as the pass-on rate, the number of firms, the number of firms affected by the cartel, and/or the market shares. We finally extend our framework to assess the cartel’s total harm, further demonstrating the crucial importance of the output effect. Our results are particularly relevant in light of the recent developments by U.S. and European antitrust authorities to make cartel damages claims more in line with actually lost profits.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Verboven & Theon Van Dijk, 2007. "Cartel damages claims and the passing-on defense," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0715, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0715

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 1990. "Horizontal Mergers: An Equilibrium Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 107-126, March.
    2. Maarten Pieter Schinkel & Jan Tuinstra & Jakob Rüggeberg, 2008. "Illinois Walls: how barring indirect purchaser suits facilitates collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 683-698.
    3. Johan Stennek & Frank Verboven, 2006. "Merger Control and Enterprise Competitiveness: Empirical Analysis and Policy Recommendations," Chapters,in: European Merger Control, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Werden, Gregory J & Froeb, Luke M, 1994. "The Effects of Mergers in Differentiated Products Industries: Logit Demand and Merger Policy," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 407-426, October.
    5. Martin Hellwig, 2006. "Private Damage Claims and the Passing-On Defense in Horizontal Price-Fixing Cases: An Economist’s Perspective," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2006_22, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    6. Connor, John M., 2005. "Price-Fixing Overcharges: Legal And Economic Evidence," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19254, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    7. repec:hhs:iuiwop:556 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Xavier Vives, 2001. "Oligopoly Pricing: Old Ideas and New Tools," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026272040x, January.
    9. Corts, Kenneth S., 1998. "Conduct parameters and the measurement of market power," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 227-250, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Boone, Jan & Müller, Wieland, 2012. "The distribution of harm in price-fixing cases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 265-276.
    2. Damien Neven & Hans Zenger, 2008. "Ex Post Evaluation of Enforcement: A Principal-Agent Perspective," De Economist, Springer, vol. 156(4), pages 477-490, December.
    3. Beschorner, Patrick Frank Ernst & Hüschelrath, Kai, 2009. "Ökonomische Aspekte der privaten Durchsetzung des Kartellrechts," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-075, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

    More about this item


    cartel damage claims;

    JEL classification:

    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0715. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (library EBIB). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.