Fine for obstructing search
  • The President of UOKiK has imposed a total of PLN 250,000 on Abexil Bąbała and one of its partners for obstructing the search.
  • Among other things, the entrepreneur misled UOKiK employees and belatedly handed over a business phone.
  • This could have hindered the collection of evidence in the ongoing price fixing investigation.

The President of UOKiK may, with the court’s approval, conduct unannounced searches at the premises of entrepreneurs. This is a tool used in situations where an entity is suspected of having evidence of competition-restrictive practices. This was the case in the investigation which was launched following suspicions that the Stihl company was fixing product resale prices with authorised dealers. UOKiK employees then conducted searches at the offices of four entrepreneurs. One of them was Abexil Bąbała. UOKiK’s employees, in line with their entitlements, demanded that the partner in charge of the company’s affairs surrender a phone used for business purposes on which there may have been emails, text messages or calls evidencing unauthorised arrangements. However, the mobile phone he handed over was not used for business purposes, had no stored contacts and only few text messages and calls from the day of the search. The business phone was not issued until the next day, following an additional call. It contained saved emails, contacts, messages and calls.

- A partner in the Abexil Bąbała company was informed of his obligation to surrender his company phone. However, he misled the searchers and knowingly handed over a different mobile phone, which could have hindered operations and prevented the collection of evidence in the ongoing investigation. Therefore, I have decided to impose fines both on the company and directly on the person who obstructed our actions - says the President of UOKiK, Tomasz Chróstny.

The sum of the fines imposed is 250 thousand zlotys, of which 150 thousand zlotys were imposed on the Abexil Bąbała company and 100 thousand zlotys on one of its partners - Rafał Andrzej Bąbała. The search took place in October 2022. Currently, the maximum fine on a company for obstructing a search is 3 percent of its turnover. The fine on an individual for obstructing a search is fifty times the average salary.

Search - what it consists in

UOKiK can only conduct a search after obtaining a court approval. The entrepreneur is then obliged to allow the Authority’s employees to enter the buildings and premises as well as to provide access to all documents, telephones used for business purposes and other data carriers. It is critical to the effectiveness of a search to secure documents or data carriers as quickly as possible. Once UOKiK’s actions have begun, the entrepreneur already has knowledge of the case and potential violations, therefore delay may defeat the purpose of the search and its effectiveness. 

The preliminary investigation into unauthorised pricing of Stihl products is still pending. 

The maximum fine for participation in an anti-competitive agreement is 10 percent of turnover for the entrepreneur, it is also possible to impose a monetary sanction of up to PLN 2 million for managers who are directly responsible for the prohibited practice.

Notify UOKiK

We remind you that UOKiK operates a programme to acquire information from anonymous whistleblowers. Do you wish to inform UOKiK about competition restricting practices? Visit or scan the QR code below and use the simple form. The pan-European system we rely on ensures full anonymity, also towards the Office itself.

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