The Warsaw Court of Competition and Consumer Protection recently delivered a significant judgment regarding the collection of electronic evidence during unannounced inspections conducted by the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection. As a result, documents stored on hard drives and emails of managers and employees must now be reviewed by officials on the inspected company's premises.
Parliament recently adopted the Act on Private Enforcement of Competition Law, which transposes the EU Antitrust Damages Directive into Polish law. The act aims to enhance the enforcement of the payment of compensation by companies that have infringed competition rules. The introduction of legal presumptions shifting the burden of proof onto the infringer and specific rules on the disclosure of evidence are steps in this direction.
The fact that more goods than ever are now traded online has meant that the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection has in recent years examined a number of cases regarding online distribution. However, the number of cases regarding the e-commerce sector which have ended with a formal decision has been limited and there have been no high-profile cases.
The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP) recently issued a decision in which it concluded that wholesale supplier Fordex and sports retailer Intersport had entered into an anti-competitive agreement and violated Article 6 of the Competition Act. The OCCP's decision stressed that price agreements (even vertical ones) are serious infringements of competition law to which neither the de minimis rule nor the block exemption regulations can be applied.
The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection recently imposed a fine on the Association of Polish Centres for Infertility Treatment and Reproduction Development for entering into an anti-competitive price-fixing agreement and violating the Competition Act. The penalty reflects the fact that price-fixing agreements are regarded as serious infringements of competition law.
Although joint bidding is accepted by the European Union and national regulations, companies must remember that their cooperation may be subject to interest from competition authorities. This is because market players must comply with antitrust regulations when tendering collectively. The Warsaw Court of Appeal recently delivered a judgment in the first Polish antitrust case regarding bidding as a consortium.
A recent Warsaw Court of Appeal decision on an alleged anti-competitive agency agreement provides guidance on the interpretation of the Guidelines on Vertical Restraints for the competition authority and the courts. Polish law does not clarify whether agency agreements are anti-competitive and the issue was not previously covered in case law, so the judgment should be of interest to entrepreneurs and competition law practitioners.
According to the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP), the results of monitoring Uber's activities in Poland have provided no grounds for intervention. Instead, the OCCP stated that the entry of a new player on the local taxi market had strengthened competition, ensured a wider choice of carriers for consumers and forced Uber's competitors to improve the quality and innovativeness of their services.
A year has passed since major amendments to the Competition and Consumer Protection Act came into force. The reform introduced significant changes, not only to the merger control regime, but also in the area of anti-monopoly practices (ie, anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position). In practice, the effects of the amendments are mainly visible in merger control, and include a substantial reduction in the duration of merger proceedings.