15 years ago the Court of Justice of the European Union created the right to damages for the infringement of EU competition rules. While the right to damages can fulfil a compensatory and a deterrent function for a long time it was not clear what the primary objective of the EU right to damages is. The answer to that question is of relevance to the interaction between public and private enforcement, particularly with respect to the relationship between the access to leniency documents for private claimants in follow-on actions for damages and the protection of the EU leniency programme. If the EU right to damages is about effective judicial protection this would mean that its objective is compensation and private claimants should be granted access. If, on the other hand, the EU right to damages is about effective enforcement of EU law, then this would point to deterrence as the primary objective. Balancing these two interests can lead to more complementarity between public and private enforcement, which in turn can enhance overall enforcement.