New Act on Protection of Competition
The new Act on Protection of Competition brings many important changes that everyone doing business in Slovakia should be aware of.
The former act was limited to natural or legal persons registered in the commercial register or other registers. Now the law applies to any entity performing business activities or other activities which might affect the competition irrespective of the legal form, existence of any legal identity or manner of financing of such entity.
The change in notification criteria relating to establishment of a new joint venture will significantly decrease the administrative burden on entrepreneurs. Before, creation of a joint venture was subject to review by the Antimonopoly Office, if the turnover criteria regarding parties of the joint venture were met, even if the joint venture was intended to perform no business in Slovakia. Thus, even extraterritorial joint ventures not affecting the competition on the Slovak market were subject to the Antimonopoly Office’s review. If entrepreneurs failed to notify such joint venture duly and timely, the Antimonopoly Office was entitled to impose a fine. Now, the creation of an extraterritorial joint venture shall no longer be assessed by the Antimonopoly Office.
Furthermore, the new act introduces several minor improvements which shall increase the effectiveness of the proceedings held by the Antimonopoly Office. It expressly empowers the Antimonopoly Office to decide on interim measures, if there is a reasonable assumption that (a) a cartel agreement was concluded or a dominant position was abused and (b) there is a risk of serious and irreparable harm to competition. Besides, the Antimonopoly Office is newly entitled to:
- impose any behavioural or structural remedies which are proportionate to the infringement committed and necessary to bring the infringement effectively to an end, provided if it is proven that a certain infringement has occurred,
- require oral statements and explanations from any person who might dispose with relevant information at any time irrespective of the fact whether proceedings were formally commenced by the Antimonopoly Office, or
- impose forfeits for failure to obey any decision by the Antimonopoly Office or to fulfil any duties during the antitrust inspection etc.
The new legislation clearly represents a big step forward. It now remains to be seen how the Antimonopoly Office and entrepreneurs will get accustomed thereto.
JUDr. Zuzana Tužilová