On 7 June 2019, a number of amendments to the Competition Act were ratified. As a main rule, the amendments will enter into force on 17 June 2019. The following presents the main changes relating to investigation proceedings, merger control and competition neutrality.
There are a number of amendments relating to the inspection procedure. The FCCA will have the right to take temporary copies of data, and continue the inspection of such collected electronic data at its own premises in addition to those of the undertaking. According to the Government proposal on changing the Competition Act, such an amendment enhances the inspection proceedings and enables the FCCA to go through large amounts of data in a manner which causes less harm to the undertaking concerned. In addition, the Act is amended to clarify that the FCCA has the right to examine the business correspondence, bookkeeping, electronic files and other documents and data of an undertaking irrespective of the medium in which it is recorded (e.g. mobile devices).
The amendments together with other related legislative changes also seek to enhance the exchange of information between various national authorities. Following the amendments, the FCCA will have the right to submit information and documents to the prescribed authorities if such information and documentation are necessary in order to carry out certain tasks assigned to the authorities by law. The FCCA will in turn have the right to obtain information necessary for the investigation of competition restrictions or merger control from such authorities, such as the tax authority and the Grey Economy Information Unit.
With regard to merger control, the amendments extend the review period in phase I proceedings from one month to 23 working days. Similarly, the review period in phase II proceedings is amended from three months to 69 working days, and the Market Court could suspend the deadline by 46 working days as opposed to the current two months. The purpose of these amendments is to clarify and unify the duration of merger control proceedings.
There are also a number of amendments relating to competition neutrality. For example, municipalities and the state entities engaged in economic activity will have an obligation to keep separate records of that activity.
There are also a number of other amendments, e.g. on clarifying the limitations in the scope of application of the Competition Act, prioritizing the tasks of the FCCA, extending the time limits of interim injunctions, and extending the use of a shortened application for fine reductions.
Some of the changes are fairly straightforward and uncontroversial. However, it would be important that the rights of undertakings and their employees in the context of inspections and with regard to the proposed increased possibilities for various information exchanges between numerous authorities are safeguarded.
As a main rule, the amendments will enter into force on 17 June 2019. However, the obligation to keep separate records will enter into force on 1 January 2020.
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