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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Parliament adopts new antitrust law

< previous | next > 18.06.2014

Parliament adopts new antitrust law

The Act on competition and consumer protection has been amended to ensure that any practice that harms either the market or consumers can be eliminated quickly and effectively. The Parliament adopted the new law on 10 June 2014. This ensures improved protection for weaker market participants and provides for more efficient ways in dealing with any activity that may harm that market

The goal of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) is to eliminate illegal practices quickly and effectively. The amended Act will enable UOKiK to be more efficient in pursuing this objective as it introduces an essential change in the area of consumer protection: the Office will now be able to publicly warn of any practice that is harming collective consumer interests, mitigating the risk of serious financial loss, and as such, any negative effect on consumers at large.

In addition, the Act has upgraded the “leniency programme, aiming to increase detection of illegal activities. Under the revised programme, any participant of a collusive agreement may receive full or partial immunity from fines, on condition that they cooperate with UOKiK fully and provide information on that agreement. Currently, full immunity is only granted to the entity that informs UOKiK first on any illegal practices, whereas other colluding competitors may only be granted reduced fines. The new Act has also introduced “leniency plus”, whereby entrepreneurs who are not the first to self-report collusion may receive an additional reduction on their fine of 30%, if they also inform UOKiK of any other collusion in which they have participated. In such cases, the entrepreneur will have the status of ‘first applicant’ for the additional collusion and will not be fined for it altogether.

Market participants will also benefit from a newly introduced practice known as “remedies”. When bringing the case to a close, UOKiK will now be able to recommend action to be taken by an entrepreneur to remedy the effects of infringements or to put an end to continued illegal practice.

In addition, the Act introduces a two-step procedure for processing M&A applications which is  also used by the European Commission and numerous other national anti-monopoly authorities. Standard cases will be processed within a month, whereas complex applications will be examined within additional four months. Throughout the proceedings UOKiK will inform the entrepreneur on their anticipated outcome, including any objections the Office may have. The entrepreneur can then comment on the information provided, and if necessary, have the M&A application reassessed in order to avoid a negative decision.

The Act also allows UOKiK to impose a fine of up to €500,000 on managers responsible for participating in competition-restricting agreements. However, the Act comprises an exhaustive list of punishable infringements to make it clear which practices may be judged as illegal. Any punishment will be commensurate with the offense and will also take into account the individual's financial situation. As a result, it will rule out any automatic imposition of sanctions and give assurance that the maximum penalty is only charged in exceptional cases.

The Sejm adopted the amended Act on competition and consumer protection on 10 June 2014. Once signed by the President, the Act will come into force within six months. In total, it will have taken two years for the new anti-monopoly law to be adopted.

Additional information for the media:

Małgorzata Cieloch, Spokesperson for UOKiK
Department of International Relations and Communication
pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa
Tel. 22 827 28 92, 55 60 106, 55 60 314
Fax 22 826 11 86
E-mail: [SCODE]bWFsZ29yemF0YS5jaWVsb2NoQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]

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