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Competition in Latvia: Latvian Courts Rediscover the “Object and Effect” Distinction

On February 3, 2014, the Supreme Court of Latvia decided case No. SKA-3/2014 [Rimi Latvia et al.] putting an end to a long and at times exasperating argument between Latvian competition law practitioners and the judiciary regarding the “object or effect” distinction under Latvian Competition Law. 

Read more: Competition in Latvia: Latvian Courts Rediscover the “Object and Effect” Distinction

Competition in Montenegro: Merger Control in Montenegro

The Montenegrin Law on Protection of Competition (“Competition Act”) came into force in 2012. The provisions of the law on restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance are modeled after Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This article presents a brief overview of the provisions on merger control.   

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Competition in Macedonia: Competition Law and the Oligopolistic Market

The governing legislation in the Republic of Macedonia regarding competition matters is the Law on the Protection of Competition (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia no.145/2010 and no. 136/2011) and the Law on Control of State Aid (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia, no.145/2010). The laws are based on the EU competition law and state aid law, encompassing standard competition law institutions: restrictive agreements and practices, abuse of dominant position and control of concentrations, and regulation of state aid. 

Read more: Competition in Macedonia: Competition Law and the Oligopolistic Market

Competition in Estonia: Estonian Parliament Considers Decriminalizing Abuse of Dominance and Increasing Fines for First Offenders

Like EU law, Estonian Competition Law prohibits abuse of dominance, i.e. unilateral abusive or harmful practices by companies who hold significant market power. Estonian law assumes that a company is dominant in a particular market and is subject to specific obligations vis-à-vis its conduct (including non-discrimination, bans on excessive or predatory pricing, etc.), if it holds more than 40% of turnover in a given market. 

Read more: Competition in Estonia: Estonian Parliament Considers Decriminalizing Abuse of Dominance and...

Competition in Slovakia: Envisaged Substantial Changes to Slovak Competition Law

The Slovak Parliament is currently deciding on substantial amendments to the Slovak Competition Act (the "Amendments"), prepared by the Slovak Competition Authority (the "AMO"). If approved in time, the Amendments will be effective as of July 1, 2014. Below, we provide an overview of the most significant changes. 

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Competition in Poland: Competition Law Enforcement Versus Compliance

The Polish Competition Authority has prepared an ambitious legislative initiative that may significantly change the regulatory landscape in the area of competition law in Poland. But while the draft legislation was regarded as the magnum opus of the ex-president of the PCA, Malgorzata Krasnodebska-Tomkiel, it is too soon to judge whether the new head of the authority, Adam Jasser, will endorse the initiative in its proposed form. 

Read more: Competition in Poland: Competition Law Enforcement Versus Compliance

Competition in Greece: An Overview of Merger-Control Activity in Greece in 2013

Greece has suffered six years of deep recession, which has led to a significant decrease of the GDP by approximately 25% and to unprecedented unemployment rates exceeding 27%. The political situation has been tenuous for a long time, while the banking system has been unable to finance companies and individuals. 

Read more: Competition in Greece: An Overview of Merger-Control Activity in Greece in 2013

Interview: Andras Mohacsi

Interview with Andras Mohacsi, Assistant Regional General Counsel at British American Tobacco. Based in Holland, Mohacsi is currently the Assistant Regional General Counsel responsible for Western Europe at British American Tobacco (BAT) and the Head of Competition for the region. He is soon to move to London to take on the same role for BAT globally. Mohacsi agreed to talk to CEE Legal Matters about the competition challenges faced by a company as large as BAT and best practices in building a compliance system and culture within such an organization.

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Competition in Slovenia: Review of Underlying Law

The scope of Slovenian Competition Law has undergone several changes since the country's independence, especially following Slovenia's accession to the EU and the approximation of its Competition Law to EU legislation. The basis of Competition Law is found in the Slovenian Constitution, which provides for a free economic initiative while prohibiting unfair competition practices. 

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Competition in Austria: Cartel Damage Claims in Austria – A Boost From the Legislator?

Private antitrust litigation in Austria has developed significantly over the past few years. The increase of enforcement decisions by the Austrian cartel courts with sometimes hefty fines against members of cartels also increased the number of damage claims brought before Austrian civil courts. After the Cartel Court "elevators and escalators cartel" decision of 2007 was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2008, a significant number of public and private customers initiated private antitrust litigation before the Commercial Court in Vienna in 2010 and 2011. No damages have yet been awarded in these cases, as the judges have so far been dealing with a number of legal arguments invoked by the defendants (such as statute of limitations or liability of directors and/or mother companies of the members of a cartel) on which Supreme Court decisions were obtained in the meantime. However, there are also other relevant pending cartel damage claim cases, including one brought by a payment system operator following a Cartel Court infringement decision of 2006 (confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007) regarding fees charged by the market leader for access to its POS terminals in shops.   

Read more: Competition in Austria: Cartel Damage Claims in Austria – A Boost From the Legislator?

Competition in Bosnia & Herzegovina: Competition Issues in the Bosnia and Herzegovina Telecommunication Market

The central government's power in Bosnia and Herzegovina  (“BiH”) is limited, as the country is largely decentralized and consists of two autonomous entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“FBiH”) and Republika Srpska, with the Brcko District as a third region. Bosnia and Herzegovina is thus a prime example of an administratively, politically, and legally complex country in transition. Legislation is adopted on the state, entity, and – in FbiH – cantonal level, depending on the allocation of competences.   

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Competition in Bulgaria: Bulgaria Proposes to Introduce Rules on Significant Market Power

In March 2014 MPs from the parliamentary majority in Bulgaria proposed a bill for amendments to the Bulgarian Law on Protection of Competition (“LPC”). The stated purpose of the bill is to introduce rules to combat unfair practices in the retail sector.  

Read more: Competition in Bulgaria: Bulgaria Proposes to Introduce Rules on Significant Market Power

Competition in Hungary: Introducing a Suspension Obligation into Hungarian Merger-Control Law

Nowadays important business opportunities often require immediate decisions. Such opportunities may arise at companies to be acquired, during, for example, the few months between the signing of an acquisition agreement concerning the company and the closing of the transaction envisaged by said agreement. 

Read more: Competition in Hungary: Introducing a Suspension Obligation into Hungarian Merger-Control Law

Competition in the Czech Republic: Is Prior Judicial Consent Required for a Dawn Raid? Czech Legal Battle Now Pending Before European Court of Human Rights

It has been a long and arduous road for Delta Pekarny, one of the largest companies on the Czech bakery market. For more than ten years the company has sought to have its right to privacy protected as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“Convention”). Now, after all domestic instances have been unsatisfactorily exhausted, Delta Pekarny’s last hope lies in the hands of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (“European Court”), which admitted Delta’s application and began to deal with the case in 2013. In turning to the European Court, Delta Pekarny seeks a declaration that its right to privacy in its place of residence was violated by the Czech state, or more precisely by the Czech Antimonopoly Office (“Office”). 

Read more: Competition in the Czech Republic: Is Prior Judicial Consent Required for a Dawn Raid? Czech Legal...

Competition in Croatia: Croatian High Administrative Court Officially Lays 2003 Competition Act to Rest

Croatian Competition Law is based on the third version of the Croatian Competition Act (the “Act”). The current statute was adopted in 2009 and entered into force on October 1, 2010, superseding the long-standing (at least by Croatian standards) 2003 version of the Act. While the 2009 Act is certainly not perfect and contains a number of suspicious legislative solutions, it was praised almost universally for one important feature: It finally provided weapons to the Competition Agency (the “Agency”). 

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Competition in Ukraine: Fair Business in Ukraine From a Competition Perspective?

While in many jurisdictions fair competition is safeguarded by consumer protection agencies, in Ukraine significant powers are allocated to the competition authority – the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (the "AMC"). Investigations of any dishonest or fraudulent practices that may unfairly distort competition constitute about 16% of all cases handled by the AMC. In 2013, 1,259 violations of unfair competition laws were investigated by the AMC. 

Read more: Competition in Ukraine: Fair Business in Ukraine From a Competition Perspective?

Competition in Turkey: The Turkish Competition Board's New Approach to Horizontal Price-Fixing Arrangements

The end of 2013 witnessed a rather interesting judgment by the Turkish Competition Board (the “Board”) on alleged price-fixing agreements among French high schools established in Istanbul, Turkey. The French Schools judgment, dated December 19, 2013, and numbered 13-71/960-407, was the outcome of a preliminary inquiry that the Turkish Competition Authority (the “Authority”) had launched against five French high schools upon allegations that the institutions systematically exchanged information on future school tuition fees and fixed their prices. 

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Competition in Lithuania: Is Money Lending Subject to Merger Control?

In the ordinary course of business, banks and other credit institutions exercise various means to mitigate the inherent risk involved in money lending. As there is very little protection offered by statute, creditors usually protect themselves by contract. And in addition to the particular risks posed by the provisions of loan (credit) contractual agreements, competition law and merger control issues can come into play in surprising ways as well.

Read more: Competition in Lithuania: Is Money Lending Subject to Merger Control?

Competition in Russia: The Current Status of the Fourth Antitrust Package

The draft amendments to the Law on Protection of Competition and other regulations, including, inter alia, the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses and the Law on State Registration of Legal Entities  (known as “the fourth antitrust package”), include a number of substantial changes. Overall, the relevant amendments aim at, among other things, increasing the powers of the Federal Antitrust Service (the FAS), clarifying a number of antitrust prohibitions, introducing new institutions within the Federal Antitrust Service, and clarifying a number of elements relating to offenses included in the Administrative Offenses Code. 

Read more: Competition in Russia: The Current Status of the Fourth Antitrust Package

Competition in Romania: Recent Developments in Competition Law: New Rules on Judicial Review of Dawn Raids and Leniency Available for Criminal Charges

Pursuant to recent amendments to Romanian Competition Law no. 21/1996 (the "Competition Law"), the Romanian Competition Council (“RCC”) can now carry out dawn raids only with prior judicial authorization on private as well as business premises. In addition, in an attempt to revitalize the leniency policy, which is rarely exercised in Romania, the legislature has now offered immunity from criminal liability for leniency applicants. Both amendments came into force on February 1, 2014. 

Read more: Competition in Romania: Recent Developments in Competition Law: New Rules on Judicial Review of...

Competition in Serbia: Retail Mergers in Serbia – Predictability vs. Substance: The Case of Agrokor/Mercator

Competition authorities are often faced with a dilemma – they can either aim to build a set of predictable legal rules, one in which companies understand what they can and cannot do; or they can develop a set of principles – a framework for assessing issues on a case–by-case basis, using complex economic and legal methodology. In most cases this is a clear trade-off, and therefore they all aim for a middle ground – a compromise, which in the eyes of companies and practitioners inevitably leads to less predictability and less substance. 

Read more: Competition in Serbia: Retail Mergers in Serbia – Predictability vs. Substance: The Case of...

Competition in Moldova: Turnover Calculation Under the New Competition Act

The recently adopted Moldovan Competition Act no.°183, dated July 11, 2012 (the “Competition Act”) aims to transpose the provisions of  Council Regulation (EC) No.1/2003 of December 16, 2002 "on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty" and, partially, of  Council Regulation (EC) No.139/2004 of January 20, 2004 "on the control of concentration between undertakings", regarding, inter alia, the rules of notification for operations of economic concentrations (the “Operations”)

Read more: Competition in Moldova: Turnover Calculation Under the New Competition Act

New Developments in Belarusian Competition Law

Belarus cannot be said to have an old Competition Law tradition. There is still no   “landmark” Competition Law case in Belarus, and according to the statistics of the Competition Authority (the Pricing Policy Department of the Ministry of the Economy), the total amount of all Competition Law fines imposed in 2013 was just BYR 2.3 billion (approximately EUR 171,000). But there are a wide variety of norms of Competition Law that are contained in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus; International Treaties that have been ratified by the Republic of Belarus; Presidential Edicts; the Belarus Civil Code; the Code of Administrative Offenses; the Criminal Code; and other antitrust laws and regulations for business and economic activities. 

Read more: New Developments in Belarusian Competition Law

Competition in the European Union: EU Nears Finalization of New Law to Promote Anti-trust Claims

The Member States’ ambassadors to the EU, sitting as the Committee of Permanent Representatives, have now endorsed the agreement between the Council Presidency and representatives of the European Parliament on a proposed new EU Directive on rules governing actions for damages for infringements of competition law. This follows the submission in June 2013 of a proposal by the European Commission. The final text is expected to be voted through by the Parliament by mid-April and could be formally adopted by the end of the year. 

Read more: Competition in the European Union: EU Nears Finalization of New Law to Promote Anti-trust Claims

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