The Federal Cartel Office recently published its Standards of Effective Compliance. These are highly relevant right now because sufficient compliance measures have been legally recognised as a factor which can lead to reduced fines since the amendment of the Act Against Restraints of Competition earlier in 2021. The standards are therefore also valuable for the question of which measures are necessary to exonerate company management.
The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) recently initiated proceedings against a household appliance company based on complaints raised by market participants over certain clauses of the company's new distribution model. The FCO examined whether the terms and conditions of sale discriminated against online retailers. Following the FCO's intervention, the company agreed to delete or adapt certain clauses. Consequently, the FCO terminated its proceedings against the company.
The Federal Cartel Office has begun operating the competition register. The competition register enables contracting authorities to check nationwide, by means of a single electronic query, whether a company has committed relevant legal violations and whether there are grounds for exclusion from public procurement procedures.
An amendment to the Act against Restraints of Competition recently entered into force, regulating issues relating, in particular, to the steady advance of digitalisation. Other important amendments relate to merger control. In the context of adapting competition law to the ongoing digitalisation, a notable change is that the Federal Cartel Office can preventively prohibit certain types of conduct by companies which have an overriding importance for competition across markets.
In two decisions, the Saarbrücken Regional Court rejected the liability of management bodies for cartel fines imposed on a company. Bathroom equipment manufacturer Villeroy & Boch claimed damages from four ex-board members with regard to a fine imposed by the European Commission for the claimant's participation in the bathroom fittings cartel (2010) and legal fees.