Competiton restricting practices

The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection is responsible for effectively responding to practices of undertakings that violate competition rules and for promoting solutions aimed at increasing fair competition on the market. Free and effective competition has a positive impact on the efficiency of the economy and is in the interests of undertakings and consumers.

Competition restricting practices include anti-competitive agreements and abuse of a dominant position. 

The law prohibits undertakings from making any arrangement the purpose or effect of which is to eliminate, restrict or distort competition. Prohibited agreements may, in particular, include:

  • price fixing (price collusion), 
  • bid rigging agreements (tender collusion), 
  • market allocation by territory, commodity, customer groups, or exchange of confide tial information.

Agreements incompatible with competition rules can be made both by competitors and undertakings operating on different levels of the market.

Abuse of a dominant position consists in the actions of an entity that has a substantial market power which enables it to take actions independently of its competitors, counterparties, and consumers, and leads to the disruption of competition in the market.

It may involve, for example:

  • imposing unfair prices, 
  • eliminating competitors, 
  • blocking new entrants.

In order to eliminate competition-restricting practices, the President of UOKiK conducts administrative proceedings. Preliminary investigation is launched in relation to a suspected violation of antitrust law. They are conducted with regard to a specific matter, not against any specific entity.

If the collected material confirms the Office’s suspicion, they may result in the initiation of antitrust proceedings for competition-restricting practices and in the formulation of charges against a specific undertaking and, in some cases, also against a managing person or persons.

Before a decision is issued, the President of UOKiK may present a party to the proceedings with a detailed justification of allegations and enable the party to respond to the Office’s findings. 

The proceedings may result in a cease and desist letter concerning the abusive practices and in the imposition of a financial penalty on the undertaking.

The law also provides for two conciliatory solutions – voluntary submission to penalty and the President’s decision obliging the undertaking to take specific action. Another opportunity to reduce and sometimes avoid financial penalties is the leniency programme. It is available to undertakings involved in illegal arrangements and managers responsible for the collusion. The condition is to cooperate with the President of UOKiK as a “crown witness” and to provide evidence or information about the existence of prohibited agreements.

As part of or in addition to ongoing proceedings, the President of UOKiK may call upon the undertaking to provide explanations, change or cease unfair practices – these are the so-called soft calls

UOKiK diversifies sources of obtaining information and methods of detecting infringements. In order to gather information that may serve as evidence in the case, the Office conducts inspections and searches at business premises.

The Office also monitors the market for competition-restricting practices and analyses information obtained directly from consumers and undertakings. Breaches of competition law may be reported to the Authority in writing (e-mail, formal notice), by phone or anonymously via Whistleblower Platform.

More at: