Three’s a charm for Intel: On judicial review of economic evidence to rebut a legal presumption

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In 2009, the European Commission imposed what was then a record-breaking fine of EUR 1.06 billion on Intel for abuse of dominance. Intel’s initial action for annulment was dismissed by the General Court (GC) of the EU in its 2014 judgment, but Intel’s appeal succeeded before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which annulled the GC’s judgment and referred it back to the GC in 2017. The ECJ ordered the GC to do a complete and detailed judicial review of the various pieces of economic evidence used by the Commission to prove the infringement and submitted by Intel to rebut it. On 26 January 2022, the GC at long last and after an exhaustive judicial review, annulled the fine. This is the third judgment – but potentially not the last – in what can now be called the Intel saga. It is a story of judicial review of economic evidence in the light of legal presumptions. But it is also about the ‘as efficient competitor-test’ and the stringency with which it must be applied. In describing the Intel saga in this blog, we will touch on all these issues; we will also try to answer what is likely (or unlikely) to happen in this case going forward and whether the EU has to repay significant default interest (as well as the principle sum) as a result of the annulment of the fine.