The Slovenian government has decided that price control measures in the field of fuel products are no longer necessary, meaning that the retail fuel market will be fully liberalised from October 2020. Following deregulation, fair competition in the fuel market will be ensured through the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and its Slovenian equivalents and Articles 6 and 9 of the Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act, which prohibit anti-competitive practices and abuse of dominance in the market.
The Administrative Court recently overturned a Competition Protection Agency (CPA) divestment order, pursuant to which Dutch telecoms provider United Group was required to sell its Sport Klub TV channels for having breached the competition rules relating to market concentration. Although the court's ruling returns the case to the CPA for reconsideration, it does not affect the CPA's earlier decision to fine United Group €3.7 million for the late notification of its acquisition of the Sport Klub TV channels.
A Ljubljana court recently slashed the fine imposed by the Competition Protection Agency (CPA) on Croatian food company Agrokor from €53.9 million to €1 million. Agrokor has confirmed the court's ruling, but intends to file an appeal and challenge the CPA's decision to confiscate its 70% stake in Slovenian food retailer Mercator.
The Competition Protection Agency (CPA) recently praised Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Slovenija, podjetje za prodajo in distribucijo brezalkoholnih pijač, doo (CCHBC) for improving its business practices in the local hotel, restaurant and cafe sector. The improvements were implemented voluntarily and were the result of discussions between the CPA and CCHBC.
Following media reports on the difficulties involved with replacing managing agents (who are in charge of managing multi-apartment buildings), excessive management costs and the ousting of small managing agents from the market, the Competition Protection Agency has carried out market research on managing multi-apartment buildings. Such issues could indicate a restriction or distortion of competition in Slovenia or abuse of a dominant position of one or more managing agent companies.
In early 2019 the Competition Protection Agency (CPA) imposed a record fine of almost €54 million for a failure to notify a concentration (so-called 'gun jumping'). This is by far the highest fine imposed by the CPA for gun jumping (and in general). As precedent concerning the CPA's practice on gun jumping is scarce, this decision provides important insight into circumstances and criteria that the CPA considers when determining fines in this regard.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology is contemplating significant amendments to Slovenia's antitrust and merger control proceedings and has prepared a draft amendment to the Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act. However, the ministry has yet to communicate when the proposed amendments will be placed in the legislative proceeding of the National Assembly and it remains unclear when the draft amendment will come into effect and how it will be worded.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently granted Produkcija Plus doo (Pro Plus) €52,500 in compensation after its right to be heard was violated during proceedings relating to a fine imposed for obstructing a dawn raid. The ECHR stated, among other things, that even though the Supreme Court had been required to review the facts on which the fine was based, the court had not heard the evidence requested by Pro Plus.
In 2017 the Competition Protection Agency initiated proceedings against Renault. The company was suspected of treating authorised mechanics and independent mechanics differently, which gave the agency grounds to believe that Renault had abused its dominant position. In response, Renault proposed remedies in an attempt to address the agency's concerns and eliminate the alleged anti-competitive effects on the market. The agency recently closed the proceedings and accepted the commitments.
Following an examination by the Competition Protection Agency regarding unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, the government drafted a proposal to amend and supplement the Agriculture Act. Parliament accepted the amendment on March 22 2018 and it will enter into force on April 19 2018. Nevertheless, all of the changes in relation to the food supply chain (with the exception of fines) will apply from January 1 2019.
The Competition Protection Agency recently published the results of a survey on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, which the agency conducted among suppliers of food products, including producers, purchasers, processing companies and intermediaries. Despite the small number of responses, the agency obtained some useful information on the functioning of the Slovenian food market.
The Competition Protection Agency recently opened an antitrust proceeding against Renault. According to the agency, there are grounds to believe that Renault abused its dominant position on the market for the provision of technical information and technical training to authorised and independent mechanics of its vehicles. Considering that only one year has passed since the agency initiated proceedings against Hyundai Avto Trade doo, the automotive industry appears to be under scrutiny.
The Slovenian courts were recently asked to rule on companies' right to be heard during dawn raids by the Competition Protection Agency. As the Supreme Court's rationale has likely set a precedent for future cases, the agency must now apply a broader interpretation to the existing provision in the Competition Act regarding the right to be heard and include further details in its investigation reports.
The Competition Protection Agency recently issued a final decision accepting Hyundai Avto Trade doo's commitments regarding its alleged anti-competitive behaviour. In the agency's view, the commitments will enhance competition between authorised and independent mechanics and help the agency to monitor the behaviour and compliance of the addressees. The addressees must comply with the decision within three months of its adoption.
In 2015 the Competition Protection Agency initiated proceedings against Hyundai Avto Trade doo and its authorised mechanics. Hyundai Avto Trade has now proposed remedies in order to address the agency's concerns and eliminate the alleged foreclosures on the market. The agency has invited all interested parties to provide comments, opinions and suggestions on the basis of the proposed remedies.
The Competition Protection Agency is resuming increased levels of activity. It recently initiated formal proceedings against three companies, on the basis of a distribution agreement relating to pharmaceutical products. Although there is no official prioritisation of industries when it comes to scrutiny of the market, it seems that pharmaceutical companies often find themselves under the spotlight of the agency.
The Competition Protection Agency has initiated proceedings against Hyundai Avto Trade doo and its authorised mechanics for allegedly concluding agreements on selective qualitative distribution which led to the foreclosure of independent mechanics and alternative distribution channels for spare parts. It remains to be seen whether the proceeding will have broader implications for the automotive industry.
The Competition Protection Agency recently found that Geoplin has been abusing its dominant position on the market for natural gas distribution to industrial customers since 2007 and ordered Geoplin to amend all of its agreements containing illicit provisions. The agency believes that the natural gas market will now open up and that industry should finally be able to buy natural gas at prices comparable to those in other EU member states.
The Competition Protection Agency has released the findings of its study of the food sector. Among other things, it noted that while private labels have significant benefits for consumers, it is still unclear whether they will cause long-term harm. The agency concluded that there is a need for further monitoring and ongoing assessment of market practices in order to prevent potential restrictions to competition.
In accordance with the Protection of Restrictions of Competition Act, the Competition Protection Agency may impose a fine of up to 10% of a company's annual turnover for infringements. However, no guidance regarding how the precise amount for a fine should be calculated exists. Therefore, the agency is free to impose a fine of between 1% and 10%, which gives the agency far too much leeway and has caused much legal uncertainty.