The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) recently announced the launch of two anti-monopoly proceedings against Polsat Television and four Discovery Group entities. According to the UOKiK, these companies may have abused their dominant position on the TV channel distribution market to the detriment of cable TV operators and ultimately consumers by way of bundled sales of TV channels.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) fined a liquefied petroleum gas distributor Zl730,000 (€160,000) for failing to notify a takeover. At the same time, the UOKiK imposed a Zl120,000 (€26,800) penalty on an industrial gas supplier for lack of cooperation following an information request in the context of merger market research.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) closed an inquiry into a marketing association with commitments. The association obliged branding agencies to resign from tenders in which no remuneration was due for a creative process (eg, the presentation of a poster or packaging design) – the so-called 'rejection fee'. The UOKiK stated that this deprived members of their independence in making decisions and limited their freedom.
After the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) fined Gazprom Zl213 million (€48 million) for withholding information in a probe concerning a joint venture to build and operate the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the Russian gas company announced that it had appealed the fine. Several companies tried to get approval from the UOKiK to set up a joint venture to build and operate Nord Stream 2, but the agency expressed concerns that the concentration could restrict competition.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) fined Gazprom and five other firms engaged in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a record €6.5 billion for concluding agreements without the authority's consent. The UOKiK held that the completion of the project would be a breach of competition rules, resulting in an increased dependence of gas recipients on Gazprom in the internal market. Gazprom has appealed the fine.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) announced that it had fined six manufacturers of wooden railway sleepers more than €3 million for bid rigging. The UOKiK discovered that all of the firms had taken part in a tender organised by the Polish railway infrastructure manager for the supply of railway sleepers. However, the agreement had not been implemented as the railway infrastructure manager cancelled the tender when it suspected bid rigging.
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) recently announced that it has opened two bid-rigging investigations concerning public tenders for forestry services. According to the UOKiK, the businesses whose bids were selected may have deliberately failed to provide necessary information so that their bids were discarded, forcing the forest district authorities in Western Pomerania to select the next best, more expensive bid.
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) recently opened a probe into e-commerce platform Allegro over potential antitrust rule breaches after it received complaints regarding Allegro's rules of cooperation with sellers. The UOKiK is trying to determine whether Allegro is gaining unjustified advantages at the expense of professional and incidental sellers.
A second-instance court has rejected PKP Cargo's appeal against a Zl14.22 million (€3.2 million) abuse of dominance fine. The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection originally imposed the fine in 2015, as it found that PKP Cargo had abused its dominant position in the domestic rail freight market by unlawfully changing the rules for the sale of freight services, allowing the company to refuse to sign special contracts with competitors.
The National Council of Agricultural Chambers recently asked the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to look into potential competition rule breaches in the soft fruit market, especially regarding the sale of gooseberries. According to gooseberry growers, the buying price of gooseberries is too low compared with the potential price of further sale. The UOKiK is set to investigate Poland's soft fruit market over suspected price fixing.
Under the Competition Act, when an undertaking is fined for being a party to a restrictive agreement, the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) can impose financial penalties on the undertaking's managers. The UOKiK recently published a soft law document which provides detailed rules for determining such penalties. According to the new guidelines, fine calculations are a multi-stage process in which an array of objective and subjective criteria are taken into account.
The European Commission recently approved a state aid scheme worth Zl3.5 billion (approximately €700 million) for loans and guarantees to support the Polish economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme will allow the Polish authorities to grant aid to support Polish companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak by providing liquidity support in the form of guarantees on loans and subsidised interest rates for loans. This article addresses the new competition rules under the scheme.
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.
The Constitutional Tribunal recently analysed regulations regarding dawn raids carried out by the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection and ruled that the respective law is not in line with the Constitution insofar as it excludes the possibility to challenge rulings allowing searches to be conducted. As a result, the Competition Act will be amended to provide searched undertakings with the possibility to appeal against Circuit Court consent to conduct searches.
One year has passed since the Act on Counteracting the Unfair Use of Contractual Advantage in the Trade of Agricultural and Food Products entered into force. The act aimed to protect small farmers and grocery suppliers against the abuse of power by large supermarkets and chain stores. The government recently adopted an amendment to the act which will allow the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection to intervene in cases involving smaller farmers.
Merger control is one of the Polish Office for Competition and Consumer Protection's main areas of activity, as it deals with 170 to 220 filings annually. Recent notable developments in this regard include proceedings initiated against Gazprom and its five partners involved in the financing and construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the unconditional approval of Cyfrowy Polsat's takeover of Netia.
Almost eight months after the Act on Counteracting the Unfair Use of Contractual Advantage in Trade of Agricultural and Food Products came into effect, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP) issued a decision regarding Cykoria SA's abusive practices. The case was closed with a commitment decision, which is unlikely to be appealed. Therefore, the courts will not provide their assessment of the OCCP's interpretation of some of the vaguer terms used in the act.
In a recent antitrust judgment, the Supreme Court provided an additional explanation of its approach to calculating fines in cases of collusion concerning resale prices (ie, resale price maintenance). Further, for the first time in its judicial practice, the Supreme Court provided general remarks concerning the privilege against self-incrimination that alleged infringers may claim.
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.