As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across Denmark, merger control has come to a temporary standstill and significant parts of the country's public administration have already been shut down for three weeks. However, the Danish competition authorities are adamant that competition law remains in force and will prioritise enforcement against companies that take advantage of the current situation through illegal behaviour, such as coordinating prices or limiting the production of certain goods.
The Supreme Court recently rendered a much-anticipated judgment on the legality of consortium agreements under competition law. The court repealed a Maritime and Commercial High Court decision from 2018 in a case concerning a consortium agreement between two companies regarding their joint bid on a public tender for road marking work. This ruling marks an increasingly restrictive practice, which may affect forms for cooperation other than consortia.
The Competition Appeals Tribunal recently upheld a decision by the Competition Council which found that two outdoor advertising companies, Clear Channel Danmark A/S and AFA JCDecaux A/S, had coordinated discount rates through an agreement. The council found that this anti-competitive behaviour had continued as a concerted practice for several years after the agreement had expired.
Several fines were handed out during Summer 2019 for Competition Act infringements. A group of cases regarding bid rigging in the demolition and plumbing industries were settled with fines issued to companies and management. In addition, the Danish association of camera distributors agreed to pay a fine for price coordination and Circle K Denmark A/S was fined for infringing merger control rules.
The Maritime and Commercial Court recently upheld a decision by the Competition Appeals Board which had found that a price coordination agreement between HMN Naturgas I/S, two sub-contractors and a trade association had as its object the restriction of competition. An interesting takeaway from the judgment is that the Maritime and Commercial Court viewed separable components of an agreement in isolation.
A bill amending the Sickness Benefits Act has recently been enacted to mitigate the economic consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for employers and self-employed persons. The bill extends the scope of employers' right to reimbursement of sickness benefits and self-employed persons' right to receive sickness benefits, provided that the sickness absence is caused by COVID-19.
The Labour Court has ruled that a bank could prohibit its employees from investing in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. This decision is an example of the way in which employers' managerial rights can, in certain situations, entail a right to establish rules for transactions or dealings that directly relate to employees' private life.
The Board of Equal Treatment recently concluded that the fact that a replacement worker in a cleaning company had received fewer shifts during her pregnancy did not constitute gender discrimination. The board concluded that the worker had not established any facts that indicated that her pregnancy had been instrumental to the reduction of her working hours or the fact that she had not been permanently employed.
A district court has confirmed a 2018 Equal Treatment Board finding that the dismissal of a female wheelchair user who had just returned from maternity leave contravened the Anti-discrimination Act and the Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women. The decision emphasises that employers which implement redundancies for operational reasons for employees with disabilities should always be able to explain in detail why it is the employee with the disability who is a candidate for redundancy.
In a recent case, the courts ruled that an employer was not liable to pay damages for an injury sustained by a temp in a car accident when driving from her home to her temporary place of work. Pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act, an accident is recognised as an industrial injury only if it is a consequence of the work or working conditions. This judgment supports existing case law that accidents occurring during transport to and from an employee's place of work are not covered by the act.
Geothermal energy has long been used for district heating in Denmark, but lately political and industry interest therein has been on the rise. This has resulted in an increase in applications to explore for and produce geothermal energy. Since 2017, five new exploration licences have been granted and five additional licences are currently being assessed by the Danish Energy Agency. Geothermal energy will help to fulfil the political goal of a carbon-neutral Denmark by 2050.
The Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities recently invited companies to take part in the eighth Danish licensing round for oil and gas exploration and production in the Danish North Sea. Licences were expected to be issued this summer, but political pressure on the government elected in June 2019 means that the eighth licensing round's future is uncertain.
The new government has raised the bar for climate and environmental goals with the aim of making Denmark the world leader in the transition to renewable energy. The government's climate plan calls for a significant focus on the use of wind energy and a new agreement goes even further than the 2018 energy agreement, with plans for an offshore energy island with a capacity of at least 10GW.
The signatories to the Energy Agreement recently decided the location of the first of three new offshore wind farms that will be put up for tender. Unlike previous projects in which the government was responsible for developing the offshore site and preparing the grid connection, the new wind farm will be procured through a procedure in which the winning tender will be responsible for developing and preparing the grid connection.
The government and all parties in Parliament recently entered into an agreement which entails a major commitment to developing green energy by 2030. The agreement contains a broad range of green initiatives and tax reliefs on electricity which aim to encourage Danish consumers to swap fossil fuels for green electricity. Similarly, the planned modernisation of the heating sector aims to provide both companies and consumers with greener and cheaper heating.
The Danish Energy Agency estimates that Denmark must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 32 million and 37 million tons by 2030 to reach its EU climate goals. To this end, the government recently published a new proposal regarding climate and air policy. The proposal contains 38 specific initiatives and mainly addresses the transport sector, agricultural production, shipping and green transitioning in housing and industry.
The Maritime and Commercial Court recently examined whether the theft of tobacco products was covered under the cargo policy agreed between a wholesaler and a carrier and whether the wholesaler's insurer was liable. It is clear from the judgment that cargo insurance coverage under the Danish Extended Conditions requires that the transport of insured goods commences immediately after loading onto the means of transport has taken place.
A recent Maritime and Commercial Court decision concerned carrier liability for temperature damage to a consignment of pharmaceuticals. The court's judgment signals that carriers must make quick decisions and implement actions to respond to temperature alarms in order to avoid unlimited liability.
The Maritime and Commercial High Court recently examined a direct action claim against a Dutch freight liability insurer in a carriage of goods by road dispute involving a bankrupt carrier and a Danish manufacturer of cigarettes. The premise relied on by the court in this matter, if not appealed, may seem ripe to undermine some insurance policies between liability insurers and international carriers, including proper law provisions and time limitation under a policy.
A recent Maritime and Commercial Court decision in which a carrier was found liable for a missing delivery underlines the importance of getting transport documents signed as a receipt for goods delivered. A signed transport document is the carrier's proof of delivery. Hence, in case of doubt as to whether delivery has taken place, the transport document serves as compelling evidence.
A recent Maritime and Commercial Court ruling highlights that a carrier may be exposed to unlimited liability for loss resulting from a failure to adhere to a shipper's demands regarding special precautions, even when these demands do not follow from the parties overall cooperation agreement. The case concerned PS4 consoles which were stolen during transportation after the exporter failed to inform the carrier that the consignment was theft sensitive.