In September 2017 the Competition Authority officially closed the investigation into the mobile phone retail market which it opened following three complaints regarding alleged coordinated practices and potential abuse of dominant position. The authority issued a number of recommendations and intends to continue to monitor the mobile phone retail market until October 2018.
The Competition Authority recently initiated an investigation into the mobile phone market in connection with alleged coordinated practices and potential abuse of the dominant position of the market players. It had been alleged that three telecommunications operators had coordinated a change in standard pre-paid packages.
In 2016 the Competition Authority issued 52 decisions relating to merger control, abuse of dominance and restrictive practices. No fines were imposed in any of the decisions. The authority also reviewed and commented on numerous legislation proposals, including the production and marketing of tobacco and cigarettes and airport fees.
The Competition Authority recently introduced a number of new bylaws. The bylaws aim to regulate short-form procedures on the assessment of concentrations, commitment procedures and the administration of electronic data during Competition Authority inspections.
The Competition Authority recently initiated ex officio proceedings against MIKA KORÇA JSC. MIKA KORÇA holds a dominant position on the tobacco market as the sole Albanian company exporting tobacco products and the only purchaser of tobacco from farmers. The authority has established that the prices at which farmers sell tobacco does not cover their high production costs, and that the average price paid by MIKA KORÇA is lower than the average price paid in the European Union.
Recent regulatory reforms include a sweeping prohibition of exclusive agreements and the attachment of the Competition Council to the Trade Ministry. It is unclear whether the council will manage to balance effective enforcement and independence, but the moves indicate that undertakings keen to break into the Algerian market or extend their market share can no longer afford to ignore the regulator or the law.
In response to an appeal lodged by the National Commission for the Defence of Competition, the Supreme Court recently agreed with a federal court decision that the commission's request for closure of proceedings initiated in connection with a complaint filed for anti-competitive acts prohibited by the Antitrust Law should be overturned. The court argued that the resolution exceeded the powers vested in the commission.
The secretary of domestic trade recently issued a new preventive measure within the pay television market and ordered an important provider of pay television channels to refrain from entering into certain conduct that may infringe the provisions set forth in the Antitrust Law. The new preventive measure shows that the commission continues to assess competition in the pay television market, but may yet be revoked.
Tribunal A of the Court of Appeals on Economic Criminal Matters recently issued a resolution annulling a decision of the Antitrust Commission issued under Section 35 of the Antitrust Law. The case involved the supply of newsprint paper to a La Rioja newspaper. The resolution confirmed that the Antitrust Commission cannot issue preventive measures under Section 35.
Over the last few years the National Commission for the Defence of Competition has been engaged in competition advocacy. Each year the commission executes a number of measures that aim to spread the provisions set forth in the Antitrust Law and the concept of free competition across the community. The commission has a wide range of alternative ways to implement competition advocacy policies.
The Antitrust Commission has issued a new preventive measure under Section 35 of the Antitrust Law. The resolution, which originated from an accusation filed by a freelance air conditioning unit installer, compelled Argentina's largest retail stores to grant guarantees for air conditioning equipment, even if the equipment is not installed by the stores' own team of installers.
The Federal Court has dismissed applications by Emirates and Singapore Airlines challenging the validity of Section 155 notices issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for the purpose of compulsorily obtaining information and documents relating to an alleged international air cargo cartel.
The government has introduced legislation to criminalize serious cartel conduct. The revised cartel bill introduces appropriate exceptions to the application of the cartel laws. These exceptions are intended to ensure that legitimate commercial arrangements and conduct that are not prohibited under the Trade Practices Act are not inadvertently captured as cartel conduct.
The Senate recently passed significant amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974. They include amendments to the misuse of market power provisions which are designed to make the prosecution of predatory pricing cases easier by specifically stating that recoupment is not required.
Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Chris Bowen recently released a revised draft of the Trade Practices Amendment (Cartel Conduct and Other Measures) Bill 2008 that proposes to criminalize serious cartel conduct. The government has provided no additional guidance to coincide with the release of this bill.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against 28 parties for misleading and deceptive conduct and exclusive dealing. The ACCC claims that the respondents used a business model called ‘bundled services deals’ to enter into contracts to provide small businesses with services.
The act transposing the EU Damages Directive into Belgian law was recently officially published. Among other things, the implementation of the directive has established a rebuttable presumption that cartels cause harm, which did not previously exist under Belgian law. In addition, the binding effect of the Belgian Competition Authority's decisions before the Belgian courts now has a legal basis.
In a recent settlement decision, the Belgian Competition Authority imposed total fines of €1.8 million on five undertakings involved in a bid-rigging cartel. The decision relates to a public tender launched in 2008 by Infrabel, the Belgian railway infrastructure operator. The tender was for the delivery and onsite installation of electrical circuit equipment and related technical assistance.
A recent Competition Authority decision is another example of its fight against vertical restraints. The Competition Authority fined yeast supplier Algist Bruggeman and its parent companies €5.5 million for resale price maintenance, exclusive customer allocation, long-term non-compete obligations and abusive exclusionary practices in the market for compressed fresh yeast and stabilised liquid fresh yeast sold to artisan and semi-artisan bakers.
In a recent decision, the Competition Authority established the circumstances in which it will review concentrations that remain below the EU and Belgian notification thresholds. The most noteworthy part of this decision is the authority's recognition that, in certain well-defined circumstances, concentrations that fall outside the scope of the Belgian merger control regime may still be subject to review.
The Competition Authority recently closed its investigation into real estate website operator Immoweb's most-favoured nation clauses in its contracts with developers of e-commerce software used by real estate agencies. When informed of the authority's preliminary analysis, Immoweb offered to revoke the existing most-favoured nation clauses in its contracts and refrain from reintroducing them in any future contracts with software developers for five years.