German Economist Sues OPEC as Illegal Cartel

Berlin-based professor of law and economics, Armin Steinbach, filed a lawsuit against OPEC in early November, accusing the organization of being an illegal cartel that is pushing up oil and heating prices. Steinbach seeks a small amount – just €50 plus interest ($51.64) – but says the lawsuit is significant. If successful, it would allow other Germans to sue OPEC for damages, and potentially pave the way for other countries to remove laws prohibiting the prosecution of foreign nations in antitrust cases. It would also mark the first time OPEC would be formally recognized as a cartel by a court of law.  A judge in Berlin has ordered several state-controlled oil companies and OPEC to name their lawyers. Rarely do countries allow lawsuits against OPEC, whose members are protected by sovereign immunity. Countries have debated these cases for decades and have concluded that removing sovereign immunity would open them up to retaliatory foreign lawsuits.

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