Schoenherr updates

Court rules that electric filling station is not an electricity company
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 04 November 2019

The Higher Administrative Court recently found that the operation of an electric filling station does not constitute the operation of an electricity company and is thus subject to Trade Act. Prior to this decision, the question of whether the act applies to such stations was unclear, as there was no relevant case law and the legal literature was divergent.

CPC fines snack distributor for unfair solicitation of customers
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 17 October 2019

The Commission on the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently fined a snack distributor 4% of its annual turnover for the unfair solicitation of customers. The commission relied on its earlier practice to determine whether a promotional campaign launched by the distributor had infringed the Competition Protection Act. This decision is a helpful reminder that in order to avoid competition law violations, companies must carefully consider which prizes to offer in promotional campaigns.

Directors' confidentiality obligations
Schoenherr
  • Company & Commercial
  • Romania
  • 07 October 2019

Under Romanian law, the scope and duration of a director's confidentiality obligations must be agreed in the mandate agreement to be concluded between the director and their company. In order to mitigate any risks in this regard, mandate agreements should set out the specific circumstances in which directors can disclose confidential information to their company's parent undertaking or subsidiaries.

Supreme Court rules on compensation for post-termination non-compete agreements
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Benefits
  • Hungary
  • 02 October 2019

Companies often use non-compete agreements to prevent highly skilled employees from using their know-how in favour of competitors following their termination. The Supreme Court recently addressed various questions relating to the compensation paid to employees for post-termination non-compete agreements. This article examines this topic in light of the Supreme Court's recent guidelines and a recent decision which led to debate among practitioners.

Supreme Court comments on anti-competitive vertical agreements
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Poland
  • 26 September 2019

The Supreme Court recently explained that the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection does not have to identify all of the parties to an anti-competitive vertical agreement in decisions issued in such cases. This matter has been the subject of debate in Poland for some time, with some commentators viewing it as a possible violation of an organiser's right to a defence. It is evident from this judgment that such arguments will be unsuccessful in the courts.

Flexibility and Storage Market Report 2019
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 23 September 2019

The information assessed when preparing the latest Flexibility and Storage Market Report on the Austrian gas market suggests that the current competitive situation does not require regulated access to storage facilities. The sufficient availability of storage capacity, customer-oriented product development, market-oriented price formation and offered quantities form a market characterised by competitive pressure.

Compensating consumers may save reputation
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 19 September 2019

Misleading business-to-consumer information may lead to significant fines. Two recent Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) decisions prove that the HCA has maintained its position as a watchdog of both consumer rights and fair competition. In both cases, the companies were investigated by the HCA because they had omitted to tell customers important information, thereby harming them.

Amendments to Competition Act on horizon
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 19 September 2019

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.

New developments in competition authority's decision-making practice: whistleblowers and appointed guardians
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 15 August 2019

The Office for the Protection of Competition recently found two companies guilty of bid rigging in a public tender. While similar bid-rigging cases occur quite frequently and generally fall within the office's purview, this case is unique because, for the first time, the office was informed about the anti-competitive behaviour by a whistleblower and appointed a guardian for one of the parties involved.

By cash or card? HCA releases findings of sector inquiry into bank card acceptance market
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 15 August 2019

In 2017 the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) initiated a sector inquiry into the bank card acceptance market. Although the market was found to be competitive and functioning in accordance with the relevant regulations, the HCA has made a number of recommendations to both the legislature and market players in order to stimulate further growth.

New rules on handling of employee data
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Benefits
  • Hungary
  • 26 June 2019

Parliament recently adopted a new law amending several sectorial laws concerning the processing of personal data. The new law aims to provide clarity in these areas and has amended the general rules of the Labour Code. It has also introduced a new chapter which sets out general rules on the handling of employee data. Although the amendments of the existing rules on the processing of employee data have been eagerly awaited, many practitioners have expressed their disappointment.

Supreme Court facilitates financing companies with cross-border business
Schoenherr
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Austria
  • 15 May 2019

For the first time, the Supreme Court has upheld a security right granted under German law, even though the asset had been transferred to Austria. Previously, such rights were terminated once the asset was moved from Germany to Austria. The decision will substantially facilitate the financing of companies with cross-border business.

Digital consumer protection in action – HCA launches market study into digital comparison tools
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 09 May 2019

The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) has launched a market study to explore the specific market developments relating to the application of digital comparison tools and their effects on consumers' decision making. The market study puts the HCA's mid-term digital consumer protection strategy paper into action and demonstrates the HCA's recent focus on consumer protection and efforts to serve as a lighthouse in the digital age.

Amendments bring overall relief to system charges
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 06 May 2019

The Austrian regulatory authority E-Control is responsible for ensuring an equal energy market and a fair market price. Each year E-Control reviews and defines the system charges for the use of electricity and gas networks on all network levels. The System Charges Ordinance 2019 and the Gas System Charges Ordinance 2019 bring further relief to system charges.

Consultation on implementation of network code on harmonised transmission tariffs
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 29 April 2019

The national regulatory authority E-Control recently published its consultation document on the implementation of the network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures in Austria. The document is structured in line with the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators consultation template. However, it appears that E-Control paid little attention to maximum transparency and traceability when setting transmission tariffs.

Health products distributor fined for resale price maintenance
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 04 April 2019

The Office for the Protection of Economic Competition recently fined Czech health products supplier TCM Herbs Kc853,000 (approximately €33,500) for resale price maintenance (RPM). TCM Herbs has appealed the decision. The office has not issued an RPM decision in a long time. As such, the outcome of the review by its chair will be closely followed and hopefully indicative in terms of how (or if) the office will consider a more economic approach.

Competition office fines Booking.com €0.33 million
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 28 March 2019

The Office for the Protection of Economic Competition recently reviewed vertical aspects of online platforms and distribution channels, ultimately fining online booking platform Booking.com approximately €0.33 million for using most-favoured-nation (MFN) clauses in its contracts with hotels. Although the decision has not yet been published, it is hoped that it will be instructive in terms of how the office examines the conditions under which MFN clauses may be considered anti-competitive.

New unified cancellation right for insurance contracts brings legal certainty
Schoenherr
  • Insurance
  • Austria
  • 26 March 2019

Until 2018, Austria had up to five different cancellation rights for insurance policyholders, plus the cancellation right pursuant to Section 8 of the Distance Financial Services Act. Thus, the legal situation was confusing. However, this has finally changed. Since 1 January 2019, a new Section 5c of the Insurance Contract Act provides for one unified cancellation right.

Electric vehicles exempt from emissions-reducing speed limits
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 18 March 2019

The Constitutional Court recently dealt with a complaint by an electric vehicle owner who had exceeded an Air Immission Protection Act speed limit. The driver claimed that his vehicle emitted no air pollutants and that the emission-dependent speed limit did not apply to him. The court disagreed. In response to this decision, the federal government created a legal exception for electric cars. However, whether all federal states will introduce an exception to the act's speed limit for electric cars remains unclear.

Influencer marketing – Advertising Council adopts specific rules
Schoenherr
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Austria
  • 15 March 2019

'Influencer marketing' means taking advantage of bloggers and other persons who have their own social media channels to promote goods and services. While the concept of transmitting arguably hidden advertising is problematic, there are many variations of this and the lines between hidden advertising and personal opinion are often blurred. As such, the Advertising Council recently issued guidelines for dealing with influencer marketing as a specific means of marketing communication.