What are the relevant limitation periods for competition damages claims? How can they be suspended or interrupted?
The limitation period for contractual competition damages claims is ten years. For extra-contractual claims the limitation period is five years. These limitation periods start on the first day following the day on which both the infringement of competition law has ceased and the victim is aware or can reasonably be expected to be aware of:
a) the behaviour and the fact that this behaviour constitutes an infringement of competition law; and
b) the fact that the infringement caused damage to the victim; and
c) the identity of the infringer.
For continuous or repeated infringements, the infringement is deemed to have ceased on the day on which the last infringement was ended.
However, for extra-contractual claims, the claim will in any event become time-barred after a period of 20 years starting from the day following the day on which the infringement took place.
The aforementioned limitation periods are interrupted when a competition authority carries out an act of investigation or prosecution of the infringement of competition law to which the action for damages relates. This interruption shall end on the day following the day after the adoption of a final infringement decision or after the proceedings have otherwise been terminated.
In addition, attempts towards an amicable resolution of disputes suspend the limitation periods for bringing an action for damages for the entire duration of the attempt at amicable resolution. This suspension only applies to parties who are involved or have been involved or represented in this procedure.
The BCL does not define a limitation period for private competition damages claims and there is no settled case law on the matter. As a result, courts have applied different limitation periods to private competition damages claims, as: (i) the 3-year limitation period established by the Brazilian Civil Code (Article 206, paragraph 3, item V) to civil redress; (ii) the 5-year limitation period defined by the Consumer Protection Code (Article 27); (iii) the 10-year general limitation period, applicable where no specific law establishes a shorter term.
For public class actions seeking competition damages, the limitation period is five years, as per the Superior Court of Justice, based on Article 21 of the BPCAL.
Moreover, it is not explicitly settled when the limitation period is triggered; therefore, this is also open to a case by case interpretation.
The limitation period can be suspended or interrupted, but it cannot be extended. The statute of limitation term can be interrupted once, when there is an administrative or judicial act aiming at assessing or investigating the alleged anticompetitive conduct. As regards private actions, the limitation period is usually interrupted when claimants file a specific action, “protesting” the relevant conduct. In this case, the term is interrupted when the judge in charge issues an order receiving the action and notifying the defendants. The statute of limitation restarts from the date the judge's order to notify the parties is issued.
- The limitation period for competition damages claims shall be 3 years, pursuant to Art. 188 of the GRCL. According to the SPC AML Interpretation, such 3-year limitation period shall commence from the date on which the plaintiff knew or should have known that its rights and interests are infringed by the alleged monopolistic practice.
- The GRCL elaborates on the circumstances under which the limitation period shall be suspended or interrupted. The GRCL also lays out the major obstacles that have occurred during the last six months of the limitation period, which could suspend the limitation period. The major obstacles include force majeure, the right holder being controlled by the obligor or others, or other obstacles which have caused the right holder to fail to make claims. The limitation period shall expire after six months from the elimination of the causes of the suspension of the limitation period.
In addition, the GRCL also sets forth the circumstances under which the limitation period shall be interrupted and shall be recalculated from the interruption and the termination of relevant procedures. The circumstances include: the plaintiff requesting the defendant to compensate damages, the defendant agreeing to fulfil its obligations of compensation, the plaintiff bringing the lawsuit or applying for arbitration, and other circumstances equal to the launch of a lawsuit or an application for arbitration.
- Considering the particulars of competition damages claims, the SPC AML Interpretation provides additional circumstances concerning the interruption of the limitation period. According to the SPC AML Interpretation, if the plaintiff reports the alleged infringement to the AML enforcement agency, the limitation period shall be interrupted from the date of such report. If the AML enforcement agency decides to not open the case, revoke the case, or terminate the investigation, the limitation period shall be recalculated from the date when the plaintiff knew or should have known of such decision. If the AML enforcement agency determines after investigation that the alleged conduct constitutes a violation of the AML, the limitation period shall be recalculated from the date when the plaintiff knew or should have known that the decision of the AML enforcement agency comes into force.
- It is also worth noting that the damages shall be calculated by considering at most three years in the case of a continuous or repeated infringement. According to the SPC AML Interpretation, if the monopolistic practice has been continuing for more than three years by the time the plaintiff files a competition damages claim before the court, and the defendant raises the defense based on the limitation period, the damages shall be calculated by considering three years from the litigation date. However, this may cause uncertainty for follow-on competition damages claims. For those claims, it is likely that the alleged monopolistic practice has been terminated before the litigation date. Assuming that the alleged monopolistic practice lasted for more than three years, it is unclear which three-year time period will be considered for damages calculation in this regard.
The limitation period for bringing actions for damages in the context of competition claims, is six years.
The limitation period does not commence before the infringement of competition law has ceased and the claimant knows, or can reasonably be expected to know:
(a) of the behavior and the fact that it constitutes an infringement of competition law;
(b) of the fact that the infringement of competition law caused harm to it; and
(c) the identity of the infringer.
The limitation period may be suspended if a national competition authority or the European Commission takes action for the purpose of the investigation or its proceedings in respect of an infringement of competition law to which the action for damages relates. The suspension shall end at the earliest one year after the infringement decision has become final or after the proceedings are otherwise terminated.
As per the general provisions, time limits for civil and commercial claims are as follows:
- The time limit for bringing civil claims is generally fifteen years from the date in which it becomes due. This limit has some exceptions. The term of prescription is five years for the following:
- recurring sums payable periodically;
- sums due to physicians, chemists, lawyers, engineers, experts, receivers in bankruptcy, brokers, professors or teachers;
- taxes and sums payable to the government and public entities; and recovery of unduly paid taxes.
The term of prescription is one year for rights due to traders and manufacturers for goods supplied to persons who do not trade in these goods; hotels and restaurants proprietors for accommodation, food and expenses; and workmen, servants and wage earners.
Time limits start running from the date the right becomes due. In case a term or condition exists, time limits start running from the day they are realised. Time limits do not start if there are circumstances preventing the claimant from acting, this include moral restrictions.
The term of prescription is three years with respect to tortuous liability such as liability for injury, restitution of the undue, enrichment without cause, or acting voluntarily on behalf of another person. The starting point for this limit is generally the date at which the person entitled to the right becomes aware of his right. In all events, such rights prescribe after fifteen years from the date the event giving rise to these rights.
- The time limit for bringing commercial claims is seven years from the date the right of a party becomes due.
- The limitation periods shall be interrupted if the claimant files a judicial action against the defendant, or if he summons him.
French law includes specific limitation rules for competition damages claims.
Article L. 482-1 of the FCC provides for a five-year limitation period which starts from the day the claimant knew or should have known, cumulatively:
- of the existence of the practices as well as their anticompetitive nature, and
- that these infringing practices caused him a damage, and
- the identity of the author(s) of these anticompetitive practices.
This limitation period does not start running for as long the anticompetitive practices are still on-going. As regards victims of leniency recipients, the limitation period only starts for them once they are in a position to initiate a claim against other defendants (other than the leniency applicant).
Article L. 462-7 of the FCC provides that the five-year limitation period is interrupted if the FCA, the Commission or any other Member State’s national competition authority takes any action for the purpose of investigating, establishing or sanctioning the relevant anticompetitive practices. Such interruption then lasts until the competition authority’s decision can no longer be appealed by an ordinary judicial appeal (ordinary judicial appeals exclude appeals on pure legal grounds to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (if it concerns a Commission decision) and to the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) (if it concerns an FCA decision)).
The relevant limitation periods for competition damages claims are complex due to several legislative changes both regarding the limitation periods as such and suspension provisions.
With regard to limitation periods, German law provides both for a knowledge-dependent limitation period as well as one that begins and ends irrespective of anyone’s knowledge.
Claims that have arisen after 26 December 2016
- Knowledge-dependent limitation period (section 33h paras 1 and 2 GWB): Claims are subject to a 5-year limitation period that starts to run at the end of the year in which (i) the claim arose, (ii) the infringement ceased and (iii) the claimant obtained knowledge (or ought to have obtained knowledge but for its gross negligence) of (a) the circumstances giving rise to the claim and (b) the fact that these constitute a cartel infringement as well as (c) the identity of the infringer.
- Knowledge-independent limitation period (section 33h para 3 GWB): Irrespective of any knowledge or grossly negligent ignorance of the circumstances set out above, claims become statute-barred 10 years after the claim arose and the infringement ceased.
- As a general rule, the new limitation rules apply (i) to claims that have arisen since 27 December 2016 and (ii) to claims that arose prior to this date provided that they were not time-barred before the new limitation provisions entered into force (section 186 para 3 GWB).
Claims having arisen until 26 December 2016
Until 26 December 2016, there were no competition-law specific provisions on limitation so that the general provisions of German civil law apply. With regard to these, one needs to distinguish between claims having arisen before and after 1 January 2002.
- Claims having arisen since 1 January 2002 (section 199 BGB old version): Since 1 January 2002, claims, including cartel damages claims, are subject to a standard 3-year knowledge-dependent limitation period. Notwithstanding knowledge or a grossly negligent lack of knowledge, claims become statute-barred ten years after they arise.
- Claims having arisen before 1 January 2002 (section 852 BGB old version): Before 1 January 2002, damage claims based on a competition infringement were subject to a limitation period of three years. Irrespective of the knowledge, there was an objective maximum period of limitation of 30 years from the claim’s arousal. If, however, the limitation period had not elapsed by 1 January 2002, the new law (see bullet above) applies, ie the limitation period started anew on 1 January 2002. However, there is also a reverse exception: The old regime needs to be applied in case it leads to an earlier expiration.
Suspension or interruption of the limitation period
First of all, the limitation periods can be suspended by general means available under German civil law, most noteworthy initiating court proceedings (Section 204 para. 1 no 1 BGB) and by starting negotiations regarding an amicable settlement of the claims (Section 203 BGB). In addition, there are specific suspension provisions for cartel damage claims:
- Current law: Section 33h para 6 GWB provides for the suspension of either limitation period during the course of national or European competition authority proceedings on the subject matter, ie the suspension commences with the competent authority initiating measures of investigation. The suspension ends one year after the infringement decision has become final or after the proceedings are otherwise terminated. It applies to claims arisen prior to the implementation of the 9th amendment if these claims were not time-barred by 9 June 2017 (section 186 para 3 GWB). Uncertainties exist as to whether the scope of suspension is affected by the subject matter of regulatory proceedings (eg changes regarding the products or time period concerned in the course of the investigation).
- Previous law as of 13 July 2005: With an effective date of 13 July 2005, the German legislator had introduced a similar rule for the suspension of applicable limitation periods during the course of proceedings by competition authorities (Section 33 para 5 GWB old version). Unlike the current suspension provision, the old suspension ends already six months after the infringement decision has become final or after the proceedings were otherwise terminated. Since its introduction, there have been controversial discussions among legal scholars and practitioners concerning several issues which the new provision does not specifically address: (i) One of the most heated debates revolved around whether the new suspension provision introduced with an effective date of 13 July 2005, could be applied retroactively to claims that had already arisen before this date. In 2018, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) rendered a long-awaited decision on this topic, holding that the suspension provision applies retroactively to those competition infringement claims which had already arisen but were not yet time-barred on 13 July 2005 (BGH, decision of 12 June 2018, case ref KZR 56/16 – Grey Cement II). This decision has a massive impact on numerous pending proceedings. (ii) Furthermore, there are different views regarding the interpretation of the starting point for suspending the limitation period: the ‘initiation of proceedings’ (formal initiation of proceedings by the relevant competition authority or proceedings being initiated as of the first measures which unfolded external effects). (iii) Regarding the scope of the suspension, the same uncertainties apply as under the current law.
- Previous law before 13 July 2005: The GWB before 13 July 2005 did not provide for a rule on suspension. Therefore, only the general provisions of the BGB applied, ie there was no suspension until the final decision of the competent cartel authority. As stated above, only those claims having arisen before 13 July 2005 and not being time-barred yet, benefit from the suspension provision in section 33 para 5 GWB old version.
The limitation period for a follow-on action is 3 years is specified under section 111 of the Competition Ordinance. Time starts to run from the expiry of the appeal period applicable to the relevant decision of the Competition Tribunal, the Court of First Instance or the Court of Appeal. If the claim is based on the decision of the Court of Final Appeal, then time starts to run from the date of the decision. However, follow-on actions cannot be brought within the appeal period of a determination without prior permission from the court.
There is no provision in the Competition Ordinance to either suspend or interrupt the limitation period.
The limitation period in tort claims is limited to seven years. The law determines that the count will begin from the day on which the act occurred or from the date on which the act ceased. Alternately, it begins from the day the damage occurred, and if the damage was not discovered on that day, then from the date on which the damage was discovered (when the limitation period is limited to ten years).
The limitation period ceases when a claim is filed, and other factors that delay the limitation period are the defendant's improper behaviour (e.g. using force, threats, exploitation of distress); or if the plaintiff does not have the facts that constitute the cause of action (for reasons that are not dependent on him).
Type A claims (Article 709 of the Civil Code)
A Type A claim is extinguished after 3 years from the time that the aggrieved party comes to know of the damage and the identity of the violator, or 20 years from the time of the tortious act, whichever comes first (Article 724 of the Civil Code). In practice, the damage and the violator usually become known to the aggrieved party when a cease and desist order or a surcharge payment order is issued by the JFTC, and the limitation period of 3 years starts to run at that time.
Type B claims (Article 25 of the AMA)
A Type B claim is extinguished after 3 years from the date that a cease and desist order or surcharge payment order becomes final and binding (Article 26(2) of the AMA). The 3-year limitation period for a Type A or Type B claim is suspended upon (i) filing of a complaint with the court, (ii) filing of an attachment, provisional seizure, or provisional disposition, or (iii) acknowledgment of the claim by the obligor.
Article 6:193s DCC contains a special statute of limitation period for competition damages claims. The temporal scope of article 6:193s DCC seems to apply to claims initiated on or after 26 December 2014, although there is some debate/criticism in this regard. The subjective limitation period is five years and starts to run the day after (i) the infringement ended and (ii) the injured party became aware of the infringement, the fact that the infringement caused harm to it and the identity of the undertaking that committed the infringement. The absolute limitation period is twenty years and starts to run the day after the infringement ended (regardless of whether the claimants are aware of the infringement on that day).
In the event article 6:193s DCC is not applicable, the limitation period for tortious liability in article 3:310 DCC applies. In that case, the five years limitation period starts to run on the date after the day that the injured party becomes aware of (i) the fact that it incurred a loss and (i) the identity of the responsible party. The 20 years period starts to run on the day the damage was inflicted.
Following article 6:193t DCC, the limitation period for competition damages claims is, amongst others, suspended when a competition authority starts investigating an alleged infringement until any decision by that competition authority has become final. This extension starts at the day after the limitation period ended. The prolongation of the length of the limitation period equals the period necessary to conclude a final breach or other way to end the proceedings, plus one year. In addition, for any Dutch law governed competition damages claim, the limitation period can be interrupted by initiating legal proceedings or issuing a written claim notice to the defendant(s) in which the rights of the claimant are unequivocally reserved. Upon such interruption notice a new limitation period of five years will start to run (article 3:319 DCC). Articled 6:193t DCC is applicable to claims initiated on or after 10 February 2017, but only if it concerns infringements that occurred after 26 December 2014. For cases that have taken place before that date, the general limitation rule in article 3:310 (1) DCC continues to apply.
The limitation period for competition damages claims is five years from the date the claimant became aware of the damage resulting from the competition law infringement, or should have become aware of it if acted diligently. This period in any case cannot last longer than ten years from the infringement. The limitation period commences only if the defendant ceased to infringe competition law.
The limitation period is suspended during the public enforcement proceedings carried out by the OCCP, the European Commission or any national competition authority within the EU. After one year from the final and binding judgments stating an infringement of competition law, the suspension of the proceedings expires and the limitation period continues to run. This suspension does not apply to amicable dispute resolution arrangements.
According to the general rule in the Polish civil law the course of limitation may also be interrupted by any of the following: (i) any act before a court of law or other authority appointed to try cases or to enforce claims taken up directly to pursue, establish, satisfy or secure a claim; (ii) the acknowledgement of a claim by a person against whom the claim may be pursued; or (iii) initiating mediation.
A 5 (five) year limitation period is applicable in respect of competition law liability claims.
This statute of limitation period is triggered as of the moment the claimant has knowledge (or can reasonably be presumed that it has such knowledge) (i) of the factual circumstances that give rise to the claim, (ii) that such circumstances represent a breach of competition law, (iii) the identification of the offender and (iv) the existence of damages arising of such breach of competition law (independently of the knowledge in respect of the full extent of the damage). In any case this statute of limitation period will never begin before the actions that represent the infringement of competition law cease. Also note that the statute of limitation period is suspended if (i) a competition authority commences an administrative investigation related to the breach of competition law on which the liability claim is based or (ii) a settlement is being negotiated.
Under Section 62 of the Competition Law, the period of limitation is either:
- Three years from when the: (i) infringement was committed or ceased (in case of continuous behaviour); or (ii) injured party becomes aware of the infringement or it may be reasonably expected to have knowledge of it.
- Two years after the Argentine Antitrust Authority’s sanctioning resolution is final and binding.
The limitation periods will be suspended as from the Argentine Antitrust Authority initiates the investigation or the procedure related to an infraction that could be related to the damages claim. Said suspension will end when a final and binding decision is issued or when the investigation is closed by any other way.
The Competition Damages Act stipulates a limitation period of five years from when the infringement ceased and the claimant became aware of, or would reasonably have been aware of, the anticompetitive behaviour, that this behaviour caused damages and the identity of the infringer. Previously, there were also no rules on a standstill or interruption of the limitation period during the time that a competition authority investigated the issue or while legal proceedings were conducted. Such rules are now included in the Competition Damages Act, stipulating that a limitation period is suspended while a competition authority takes actions in the case of the infringement to which the claim relates. A new limitation period of five years commences from the day when there is a legally binding decision on the infringement or if the authority concludes its investigation in another manner.
The limitation periods for competition damages claims are subject to the statute of limitations applicable to tort claims regulated under the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098 ("Code of Obligations").
Pursuant to Article 72 the Code of Obligations, the claimant in a tort claim must bring an action within two years of them becoming aware of the tortious act, and at any rate within ten years of the tortious act’s occurrence. The claimant can also suspend or interrupt the limitation periods if the claimant files a lawsuit or invokes the debt as an exception during trial proceedings.
The Code of Obligations also provides that if the action for damages is derived from a criminal offence for which criminal law envisages a longer limitation period, that longer period also applies to the civil tort claim. In recent rulings (see e.g., 11th Chamber of Court of Cassation’s decision dated March 30, 2015 and No. 2014/13296E, 2015/4424K and 11th Chamber of Court of Cassation's decision dated October 27, 2015 and No. 2015/3450E. 2015/11139K.), the Court of Cassation applied this provision to competition law violations based on the ground that competition law violations constitute misdemeanours falling within the general ambit of Law No. 5326 on Misdemeanours. As such, the general statute of limitations for competition law offenses of eight years was applied as the statute of limitations period.
As per Article 72 of the Code of Obligations, the statute of limitation starts once the claimant becomes aware of the harm and the identity of those that caused the injury. Several recent decisions of the Court of Cassation on antitrust-related damages claims identified the beginning of the statute of limitation as the moment the claimant (also the complainant in the relevant Competition Board investigations) lodged its complaint with the Competition Authority. In cases where the claimant in the civil action is not the complainant with the Authority (e.g. a consumer in the case of a cartel decision), the date when the Board’s infringement decision is announced on its website would be more appropriate to pinpoint when the claimant becomes aware of harm and the identity of those that caused the injury.
The limitation period for commencing a competition damages claim is six years after the day on which the cause of action that relates to the conduct accrued (the day on which the relevant loss or damage was suffered).
The court has no discretion to extend the six year time limit. The defendant should plead the limitation period as a defence to a proceeding brought outside the time limit.
Section 36(4) of the Act provides that the private right of action to recover damages for any loss or damage incurred as a result of a breach of one of the criminal provisions of the Act is subject to a two-year limitation period.
Case law to date suggests that the “discoverability rule” applies to section 36 claims. This means that the start of the limitation period is postponed until the time that the plaintiff knew or ought to have known of the anti-competitive conduct or disposition of criminal proceedings, although this is presently before the Supreme Court of Canada in Godfrey.
The two-year limitation period is restarted every time there is a fresh conviction for the anti-competitive conduct in question.
The statute of limitation term for competition damages claims is five years, which is the ordinary term provided under the ICC for torts.
Moreover, pursuant to L.D. 3/2017, the abovementioned term:
- starts running from the date on which the anticompetitive conduct has ended and the harmed party has reasonably become aware of the existence of such conduct and of its anticompetitive nature, of whom carried it out and of the damages that it has caused;
- is suspended when the Italian Competition Authority starts an investigation or a proceedings and remains suspended for all the duration thereof plus one additional year after the decision has become final or after that the proceedings has ended in any other way;
- interrupted when (i) a judicial claim is brought before the competent Court, (ii) a formal notice is served to the infringer, (iii) a mediation petition is notified, (iv) the communication of the invitation to conclude an assisted negotiation agreement or when the agreement is signed, (v) a petition is filed to commence an ADR procedure according to the Consumers Code.
The limitation period for a competition damage claim is five (5) years. Such term shall not begin to lapse prior to the infringement having ceased and the plaintiff having known, or been reasonably expected to know:
(i) the behaviour and the fact that it constitutes an infringement of competition law;
(ii) the fact that the infringement generated a prejudice; and
(iii) the identity of the infringer.
The limitation period does not commence or, if it already commenced, it shall be suspended if a competition authority takes investigative action in that regard. The suspension shall end one (1) year after an infringement decision has become final or after the proceedings are otherwise terminated.
If one of the infringers is either an SME or an immunity recipient (see question 4) and the plaintiff cannot recover the damages from the other undertakings involved in the same infringement due to the latter’s bankruptcy, the limitation period against an SME or an immunity recipient is three (3) years as of the date of issuance of a final bankruptcy decision or otherwise termination of the proceedings.
Aside from the specific suspension situations mentioned above, under Romanian law, the following suspension hypotheses are also noteworthy:
(i) throughout the negotiations held in order to amiably solve the dispute, but only if such negotiations have started within the last six (6) months of the limitation period; and
(ii) if the harmed person is subject to a force majeure case which impedes it to take action, as long as such impediment exists, but only provided that the force majeure case occurred within the last six (6) months prior to expiry of the limitation period.
Also, apart from the specific interruption situations mentioned above, the limitation period is generally interrupted by:
(i) the infringer’s recognition as to the harmed person’s claim; and
(ii) commencement of litigation by the harmed person.
The default limitation period is six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued (which will usually be the date on which the relevant loss was suffered). However, this can be extended if a claimant can show that a defendant has deliberately concealed essential facts relevant to the claimant’s cause of action (e.g. in the case of a secret cartel). In that case, limitation will begin to run from the date on which the claimant discovered or could, with reasonable diligence, have discovered the concealment.
Following the implementation of the Damages Directive, specific limitation provisions apply in claims relating to an infringement that took place on or after the Implementation Date. In these cases, limitation will not start to run until (i) the infringement has ceased and (ii) the claimant knows (or could reasonably be expected to know) of the infringement, the identity of the infringer, and that it has suffered loss. The limitation period is suspended during competition authority investigations (including while any appeals are ongoing) and for a period of one year thereafter.
Special limitation rules apply to follow-on claims before the CAT where the cause of action arose before 1 October 2015. Such claims must be brought within two years from the date on which the infringement decision became final (i.e. once the time for appealing the decision expired or the appeals process concluded). On 1 October 2015, new rules were introduced which extended the CAT’s jurisdiction in include stand-alone claims and aligned the limitation period in the CAT with the general rule described above for claims arising on or after 1 October 2015.
Special limitation rules also apply to claims made in collective proceedings before the CAT (see question 20 below). In particular, the limitation period is suspended from the date on which the collective action is commenced, and will only continue running on the occurrence of certain events (e.g. withdrawal or settlement of the claim).
a. Individual Actions: The lawsuit shall be filled in the 10 years following the occurrence of the event that gives rise to the damage.
This term can be interrupted if (i) the debtor of the obligation (in this case, the individual or entity that caused the damage) acknowledges such obligation to compensate the damage; or (ii) when the lawsuit has been filled. Additionally, this term is suspended for any certain individuals under special protection such as the minors, the incapable, deaf-mute, or any individual under guardianship, until such protection has ended.
b. Collective Actions: For class actions, the lawsuit shall be filled in the 2 years following the occurrence of the event that gives rise to the damage or from the moment in which the event that cause the damage has stopped (on-going damage). This term cannot be suspended but only interrupted with the filling of the claim.
Regarding popular actions, the lawsuit can only be filled as long ad the threat or danger to the collective right or interests exists.
For actions under federal law, private plaintiffs must bring claims within four years after the cause of action accrued. 15 USCA § 15(b) . Claims, therefore, must be brought within four years from of last alleged anticompetitive overt act of the defendant. See, eg, Maricopa County v American Pipe & Construction Co, 303 F Supp 77 [D Ariz 1969], aff’d 431 F2d 1145 [9th Cir1970]. Some courts interpret this as four years from when the injury occurred, while other courts see it as four years from the time when a victim could have reasonably discovered it was injured. Compare Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 US 321, 338 ( with In re Processed Egg Prods. Antitrust Litigation, 931 F Supp 654, 657 [ED Pa 2013].
A continuing conspiracy exception to the statute of limitations exists if the defendant engages in new and independent acts that inflict new injury on the plaintiff. See Champagne Metals v Ken-Mac Metals, Inc, 458 F3d 1073, 1088 [10th Cir 2006]. Some acts, such as the performance of a pre-existing but allegedly anticompetitive contract, will not constitute a new predicate act extending the limitations period. See In re Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride Antitrust Litigation, 261 F Supp 2d 188, 229 [EDNY 2003]. Conversely, continued price increases may constitute new and independent acts giving rise to the continuing violation exception to the tolling period, allowing plaintiffs to file suit beyond four years after the initial act. See In re Wholesale Grocery Products Antitrust Litigation, 722 F Supp 2d 1079, 1087–88 [D Minn 2010].
For criminal antitrust actions, however, the statute of limitations is five years. See 18 USCA § 3282 .