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.
In recent months there have been a number of significant cases concerning restrictive agreements in Denmark. For example, a cooperative purchasing society was found guilty of coordinating prices, several judgments were issued regarding cartel infringement in the form of bid rigging in the demolition industry and a company executive was fined for imposing minimum resale prices on hair products.
The Competition Council recently handed down a highly publicised decision finding that the ambulance and assistance company Falck Danmark A/S had abused its dominant position on the Danish market for ambulance and pre-hospital support services by establishing and carrying out a general strategy to exclude its competitor from the market.
There were a number of significant events in Danish competition law in Autumn 2018. For example, one of Denmark's most significant abuse of dominance cases ended following the High Court of Western Denmark's issuance of its final decision. Further, the Competition Appeals Tribunal confirmed that Swedish pharmaceutical distributor CD Pharma AB had abused its dominant position and a widely discussed gun-jumping case was finally decided after a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice.
A care assistant was treated in a sexually offensive manner by a disabled individual for whom she had been hired to care. The Eastern High Court determined that the care assistant's employer was not responsible for the disabled individual's behaviour, but that her subsequent dismissal contravened the Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women.
Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, Parliament adopted a bill to amend the Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women. Now, the social partners and the Danish Working Environment Authority have joined forces to launch the 'Where's the limit?' campaign, which aims to prevent unacceptable and offensive conduct in the workplace and create a working environment that is free from sexual harassment.
The Western High Court recently found that the dismissal of an employee who had called in sick on the first day after a period of childbirth-related leave and holiday did not contravene the Act on the Equal Treatment of Men and Women. The judgment exemplifies that if an employee's dismissal has a close temporal connection with their return from childbirth-related leave, this does not automatically raise a presumption of discrimination.
The Supreme Court recently held that an employer had been unjustified to summarily dismiss an employee with retroactive effect after discovering that he had covertly recorded a conversation with his manager. The court had to decide whether the employee's secret audio recording could be regarded as a material breach of the employment relationship and justify summary dismissal.
The Board of Equal Treatment recently found that an amendment to a university lecturer's homeworking agreement and her subsequent termination did not conflict with the Anti-discrimination Act. The board held that there had been no indirect discrimination against the lecturer on the grounds of her national or ethnic origin, as it was her choice of residence rather than her ethnic or national origin that had given rise to the situation that led to her termination.
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 transmission systems for electricity and natural gas are owned, operated and developed by Energinet, an independent public enterprise owned by the state. The government recently made a new political agreement with a broad number of political parties concerning Energinet's future economic regulation, which means that it will become subject to a revenue framework. With the new agreement, Denmark will follow the same regulatory tendencies seen in other northern and western European countries.
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 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.
The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage introduced a strict liability regime for bunker oil pollution damage. However, the Maritime and Commercial Court recently ruled that shipbrokers, chartering brokers and commercial managers that provide cargo, commercial contracts or commercial agreements but are not involved with a ship's technical operation may fall outside the scope of liable parties under the convention.
A recent Maritime and Commercial Court decision demonstrates that in order to obtain compensation after cargo has been delivered without the presentation of a bill of lading, it must be proven that the release of said cargo resulted in financial loss. Therefore, in order to pursue compensation from a carrier or agent, a seller that has received no payment from the buyer for the delivery of a consignment may need to prove that the buyer had not already obtained title to the goods delivered before their release.