Latest updates

Parliament eases procedure for setting up new companies
Schoenherr
  • Company & Commercial
  • Romania
  • 13 January 2020

A series of minor yet impactful amendments will shortly be introduced to the Companies Law, making it easier for investors and entrepreneurs to set up a new company. Parliament adopted the amendments in order to reduce the red tape surrounding company incorporation and encourage investment in the Romanian economy.

Supreme Court rules on distribution network operators' obligation to connect
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 23 December 2019

The Supreme Court recently considered whether distribution network operators must provide network users with a written cost estimate for a grid connection even if the general obligation to connect final customers to the grid is still in dispute and has yet to be decided by the competent authority. The case has clarified whether a network operator's obligation to provide a cost estimate presupposes that its connection obligation is undisputed or has already been legally established.

Article 15(3) of GDPR and right to access files or documents – an Austrian perspective
Schoenherr
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Austria
  • 20 December 2019

With the adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the EU legislature intended to strengthen the rights of individuals (ie, data subjects or applicants) by giving them greater control over how their personal data is used. Applicants must be informed of the processing of their personal data and be able to verify whether such processing is lawful. Accessing documents is not necessary to achieve that goal. This view is supported by two recent Austrian decisions.

CPA imposes record fine for failure to notify concentration
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 19 December 2019

In early 2019 the Competition Protection Agency (CPA) imposed a record fine of almost €54 million for a failure to notify a concentration (so-called 'gun jumping'). This is by far the highest fine imposed by the CPA for gun jumping (and in general). As precedent concerning the CPA's practice on gun jumping is scarce, this decision provides important insight into circumstances and criteria that the CPA considers when determining fines in this regard.

Competition authority under scrutiny for alleged fishing expedition
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 19 December 2019

The legality of on-site inspections (also known as dawn raids) carried out by the Office for the Protection of Competition at the premises of betting companies in early 2019 is currently under judicial review. For its part, the office maintains that dawn raids are an efficient tool for investigating possible competition law infringements. Moreover, it recently published an information letter on dawn raids and intervention actions on its website.

Rising focus on HCA settlement proceedings – case law round-up
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 19 December 2019

Since 1 July 2014, companies have been able to initiate settlement proceedings with the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA). Recent case law suggests that the HCA has aimed to foster cooperation between itself and market participants and is striving for cooperation even when market participants allegedly commit grave infringements of competition rule commitments.

CEZ Bulgaria not for sale
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 19 December 2019

CEZ Bulgaria is not for sale. This seems to be the (implicit) conclusion of the Commission on the Protection of Competition's (CPC's) decision prohibiting Eurohold Bulgaria AD's acquisition of all of CEZ Group's Bulgarian assets. The CPC's decision came after a fast-track and in-depth proceeding (Phase II), which ended only 14 days after it was formally opened.

Competition authority imposes landmark fine under leniency programme
Moravčević Vojnović and Partners in cooperation with Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Serbia
  • 28 November 2019

The Commission for the Protection of Competition has published its first leniency decision in a cartel case, following a report by one of the cartel participants. The leniency programme was introduced in 2009 but had yet to yield results. The leniency decision is therefore a watershed moment in the programme's development and signals an improvement in the commission's anti-cartel enforcement record.

New state aid regime
Moravčević Vojnović and Partners in cooperation with Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Serbia
  • 14 November 2019

From 1 January 2020, Serbia will have a new state aid regime under the new Act on State Aid Control. One of the goals of the new act is to harmonise Serbia's state aid legal framework with EU law, which will help to advance the EU accession process and the implementation of Negotiation Chapter 8 – Competition Policy. Until now, market participants have not focused on compliance with the state aid rules, likely due to a lack of awareness and relatively lenient enforcement; this is expected to change under the new act.

Court rules that electric filling station is not an electricity company
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 04 November 2019

The Higher Administrative Court recently found that the operation of an electric filling station does not constitute the operation of an electricity company and is thus subject to Trade Act. Prior to this decision, the question of whether the act applies to such stations was unclear, as there was no relevant case law and the legal literature was divergent.

CPC fines snack distributor for unfair solicitation of customers
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 17 October 2019

The Commission on the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently fined a snack distributor 4% of its annual turnover for the unfair solicitation of customers. The commission relied on its earlier practice to determine whether a promotional campaign launched by the distributor had infringed the Competition Protection Act. This decision is a helpful reminder that in order to avoid competition law violations, companies must carefully consider which prizes to offer in promotional campaigns.

Directors' confidentiality obligations
Schoenherr
  • Company & Commercial
  • Romania
  • 07 October 2019

Under Romanian law, the scope and duration of a director's confidentiality obligations must be agreed in the mandate agreement to be concluded between the director and their company. In order to mitigate any risks in this regard, mandate agreements should set out the specific circumstances in which directors can disclose confidential information to their company's parent undertaking or subsidiaries.

Supreme Court rules on compensation for post-termination non-compete agreements
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Benefits
  • Hungary
  • 02 October 2019

Companies often use non-compete agreements to prevent highly skilled employees from using their know-how in favour of competitors following their termination. The Supreme Court recently addressed various questions relating to the compensation paid to employees for post-termination non-compete agreements. This article examines this topic in light of the Supreme Court's recent guidelines and a recent decision which led to debate among practitioners.

Supreme Court comments on anti-competitive vertical agreements
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Poland
  • 26 September 2019

The Supreme Court recently explained that the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection does not have to identify all of the parties to an anti-competitive vertical agreement in decisions issued in such cases. This matter has been the subject of debate in Poland for some time, with some commentators viewing it as a possible violation of an organiser's right to a defence. It is evident from this judgment that such arguments will be unsuccessful in the courts.

Flexibility and Storage Market Report 2019
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 23 September 2019

The information assessed when preparing the latest Flexibility and Storage Market Report on the Austrian gas market suggests that the current competitive situation does not require regulated access to storage facilities. The sufficient availability of storage capacity, customer-oriented product development, market-oriented price formation and offered quantities form a market characterised by competitive pressure.

Compensating consumers may save reputation
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 19 September 2019

Misleading business-to-consumer information may lead to significant fines. Two recent Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) decisions prove that the HCA has maintained its position as a watchdog of both consumer rights and fair competition. In both cases, the companies were investigated by the HCA because they had omitted to tell customers important information, thereby harming them.

Amendments to Competition Act on horizon
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 19 September 2019

The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology is contemplating significant amendments to Slovenia's antitrust and merger control proceedings and has prepared a draft amendment to the Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act. However, the ministry has yet to communicate when the proposed amendments will be placed in the legislative proceeding of the National Assembly and it remains unclear when the draft amendment will come into effect and how it will be worded.

New developments in competition authority's decision-making practice: whistleblowers and appointed guardians
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 15 August 2019

The Office for the Protection of Competition recently found two companies guilty of bid rigging in a public tender. While similar bid-rigging cases occur quite frequently and generally fall within the office's purview, this case is unique because, for the first time, the office was informed about the anti-competitive behaviour by a whistleblower and appointed a guardian for one of the parties involved.

By cash or card? HCA releases findings of sector inquiry into bank card acceptance market
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 15 August 2019

In 2017 the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) initiated a sector inquiry into the bank card acceptance market. Although the market was found to be competitive and functioning in accordance with the relevant regulations, the HCA has made a number of recommendations to both the legislature and market players in order to stimulate further growth.

Funeral agency fined for not complying with earlier CPC decision
Advokatsko druzhestvo Stoyanov & Tsekova in cooperation with Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 25 July 2019

The Commission on the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently issued a decision in which it penalised the funeral agency Elida MG EOOD (formerly Pokoy-1945 EOOD) for failing to comply with an earlier CPC decision. Such cases in which an undertaking fails to comply with a CPC decision and is therefore fined again are extremely rare due to the substantial pecuniary penalties which may be imposed on violators.