Amendments to Competition Law
On 16 October 2020, Government Emergency Ordinance no. 170/2020 (“GEO 170/2020”) regarding damages for infringement of competition law and also amending Competition Law no. 21/1996 was published in the Romanian Official Gazette, Part 1, no. 952.
GEO 170/2020 transposes Directive 2014/104/EU which governs actions for damages under national law for infringement of the competition law provisions of Member States, and of the European Union, and aims to provide effective mechanisms for:
(i) ensuring compliance with competition rules at a private level; and
(ii) ensuring the right of access to a court to recover damages for companies which have been affected by the anti-competitive behaviour of other market participants, in order to discourage such behaviour.
GEO 170/2020 stipulates the right of any person who has suffered damage resulting from an infringement of competition law by a company, or an association of companies, to claim from the competent courts, ie. the Bucharest Tribunal, full compensation for the damage suffered. (this being actual loss and any gains which the injured person is deprived of, as well as any associated interest).
Disclosure of evidence is strictly regulated, including stipulating the ability for the court to take effective measures to protect confidential information, as well as limitations on the presentation and use of evidence included in the competition authority's file.
One important change is the fact that, from now on, those who suffer damage will be able to use the decision of the Competition Council, so that they will no longer have to prove themselves that the law was infringed. In addition, they may also use any evidence gathered by the Competition Council, the latter being obliged to make the evidence in question available.
Failure to provide evidence, the destruction of any evidence, violations of confidentiality measures or limitations on the use of evidence are acts for which the court may impose fines of between RON 500 and RON 5,000 for individuals and between 0.1% and 1% of turnover for the previous year for legal entities.
In order for there to be one unified regulation it is necessary to amend the existing provisions of Romanian Competition Law.
A substantial amendment to the existing Competition Law is the application of fines based on the worldwide turnover in cases of the violation of certain competition provisions by companies which are not registered in Romania, compared to the old law which based fines on a company’s national turnover. For companies registered in Romania, the fines will continue to be based on their Romanian turnover.
The amendment also provides for an obligation on companies to provide, at the request of the Competition Council, information on the selling price of products, in order to perform certain analyses, market studies and/or price comparisons, including on online platforms. The purpose behind this amendment is the provision of consumer information.
GEO 170/2020 has been adopted in order to strengthen the power of the competition authorities in the Member States, and is not only opportune but we hope will also result in a downward trend in the infringement of competition law by companies.