Landmark case closed after almost 14 years: COBALT succesfully defends airBaltic and Riga International Airport against flyLAL

2022 - 06 - 20

COBALT has successfully defended the airline airBaltic and Riga International Airport against antitrust claims brought by flyLAL, a bankrupt carrier. On 16 June 2022, the Supreme Court of Lithuania (SCL) finally dismissed the claims. The claims of flyLAL and its shareholders, which jointly sought damages in the amount of approximately EUR 140 million, were brought in 2008.

“At COBALT, two teams, one for each respondent, worked on this case. We are pleased that COBALT has been able to effectively protect its clients and help Riga International Airport and airBaltic focus on their mission to ensure Baltic connectivity. After almost 14 years of proceedings in Vilnius, Riga and Luxembourg and after more than 40 court hearings, the end point has been reached in this case,” said Dr Rimantas Simaitis, COBALT Partner, Attorney at Law and Head of the Dispute Resolution Department.

“This case was one of the first in Lithuania to deal with standalone claims for damages for alleged violations of European Union and national competition rules. AirBaltic, together with Riga International Airport, had to defend itself not only against claims for damages, but also against accusations that airBaltic had engaged in predatory pricing in Lithuania and participated in a prohibited agreement with Riga International Airport. The client I represented, airBaltic, and Riga International Airport have been patient in waiting for this victory. This has been one of the most interesting and complicated cases part of my career,” said Rasa Zaščiurinskaitė, COBALT Partner and Head of the Competition Law Practice Group at COBALT Lithuania.

Over a period of almost 14 years, four different institutions intervened in the case. On two separate occasions the Court of Justice of the European Union was asked to clarify whether provisional measures were enforceable against the respondents and whether the case was subject to the jurisdiction of Lithuanian courts.  Lithuanian and Latvian competition authorities and the Latvian Ministry of Justice contributed their observations.

The dispute arose back in 2008. flyLAL claimed damages from the Latvian companies in the context of an alleged agreement on lower fares at Riga International Airport and conspiracy to eliminate flyLAL from the relevant flight markets in Lithuania.

“First of all, we are pleased that COBALT lawyers have defended the interests of their clients in this complex, difficult and cross-border case. At the same time, it is no less important to thank clients for their perseverance and patience in the legal battle. The fact that this case has taken almost 14 years to process shows how much work and effort it took for the clients to fend off these claims: neither Riga International Airport nor airBaltic were responsible for flyLAL’s actions and losses“, said Marius Inta, COBALT Partner and Head of the Commercial Disputes Practice Group at COBALT Lithuania.

Legal assistance to Riga International Airport and airBaltic was provided by a team of COBALT lawyers consisting of Partners Dr Rimantas Simaitis, Marius Inta, Rasa Zaščiurinskaitė and Senior Associate Dr Vaidas Kontrimas from Lithuania’s office, and COBALT Latvia Partners Ugis Zeltinš, Sandija Novicka and Senior Advisor Girts Lejinš from Latvia’s office.

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