July 26 2012
The new Competition Act, approved by Law 19/2012, came into force on July 8 2012. It represents a comprehensive reworking of the rules of the Competition Act 2003. Some of the changes seek to give the statute greater autonomy in relation to other branches of law, such as administrative law and the law on misdemeanours. In other areas the reform aims to align Portugal's competition system with the EU regime in both substantive and procedural matters.
A common thread seems to run through the most notable innovations in the new act. The Competition Authority's investigatory and fact-finding powers have been significantly increased, whereas the rights and prerogatives of undertakings and individuals have been strictly curtailed. The new legislative regime does not always succeed in striking a reasonable balance between its stated aim of more efficient competition enforcement and the constitutional and legal guarantees that protect the rights of defence of those involved in infringement procedures. This overall trend is illustrated by three aspects of the new law:
These and other provisions of the new act have tipped the scales strongly in favour of the authority and have bolstered its powers and prerogatives; they represent a significant limitation on the rights of undertakings involved in public enforcement procedures. Given their scope and impact, there are serious doubts as to whether the new rules are appropriate and proportionate, and they are likely to be challenged in future cases on various constitutional grounds.
For further information on this topic please contact Gonçalo Machado Borges at Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva & Associados by telephone (+351 21 381 7400), fax (+351 21 381 7411) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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