The Competition Authority recently put the draft Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation forward for public debate. The draft regulation is aligned with the EU Regulation on the Application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to Categories of Technology Transfer Agreements.
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.
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.
It is often difficult to clearly demonstrate an abuse of a dominant position by way of excessive pricing. Nevertheless, the Brussels Commercial Court recently seemed to have little doubt that the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers' (SABAM's) increased tariffs for concerts and music festivals constituted an abuse of its dominant position. However, what is more interesting is that the court also considered SABAM's existing practice to constitute an abuse of its dominant position.
The Competition College recently refused to initiate a Phase II investigation and approved Volvo Group Belgium's acquisition of various companies belonging to the Kant group, despite concerns that the transaction was likely to result in competition issues. This case demonstrates that a hearing before the Competition College is not just a formality and that parties can successfully contest a prosecutor's findings.
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.