Paraffin wax is a by-product of oil production and is used in a variety of products including candles and tyres. A Decision of the European Commission in 2008 found that ExxonMobil, Sasol, Shell and a number of other global oil companies had unlawfully colluded in price fixing and market allocation for sales of paraffin wax between 1992 and 2005.
Hausfeld acted on behalf of a group of 30 retailers from across Europe including several major candle manufacturers and other users of paraffin wax. In what was one of the first group competition claims in London, claims were issued in the High Court for damages arising from unlawful price fixing by nine global oil companies.
Proceedings were issued in 2009 against companies in the Shell and Exxon groups. Shell in turn issued contribution proceedings against the other cartel participants, ENI, Hansen & Rosenthal, Tudapetrol, MOL, Repsol, Total and RWE seeking a contribution to any award. An application was later made in September 2011 to join Sasol as an additional defendant to the proceedings.
The claim sought to establish key concepts of liability for competition damages including the joint and several liability of cartel participants and their liability for umbrella damages where their conduct has caused wider price impact in the market – both now well-established principles in private damages actions but at the time heavily contested by the defendants.
The proceedings were stayed by consent of the parties and were resolved on confidential terms in 2013.