Single continuous infringement
Produced in partnership with Dentons
Single continuous infringement

The following Competition guidance note Produced in partnership with Dentons provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Single continuous infringement
  • Rationale behind the SCI concept
  • Finding of an SCI
  • Controversial implications of the SCI concept
  • Consequences of the annulment by the EU Courts of a finding of SCI

The concept of ’single and continuous infringement‘ (SCI) enables the European Commission (and national competition authorities more generally) to lump a series of infringements of Article 101 TFEU together under the heading of the same cartel conduct, on the ground that they pursue a single overall plan.

Rationale behind the SCI concept

Where a complex cartel of a long duration is at issue, its scope, form and membership may change throughout time. This may pose the following problems, amongst others, for the Commission:

  1. a higher evidentiary threshold, as the Commission would need to identify and prove:

    1. the existence of a series of distinct anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices, and

    2. the parties involved in each of them

  2. a potential time-bar as regards the older of such distinct anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices.

To address such problems, the Commission has adopted the SCI concept which has been upheld by the EU Courts.

The SCI concept made its first appearance in Europe in the Polypropylene decision in 1986. The Commission found that 15 petrochemical producers had set up a complex system of informal contacts, meetings, price-fixing and market-sharing arrangements—all aimed at controlling the price of polypropylene in Europe between 1977 and 1982. Instead of treating such infringements separately, the Commission considered that they were interlinked by their common goal and, therefore, had to be regarded