In 2012, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority considered Valio Ltd, a Finnish producer of dairy products and other foodstuffs, to have engaged in predatory pricing in the markets for basic milk with the intention of abolishing effective competition in dairy markets in Finland. The Authority, in its decision handed down in late 2012, ordered Valio to cease its abuse of a dominant position and submitted to the Finnish Market Court for ruling a MEUR 70 fine for infringement of competition law. ‘Predatory pricing’ refers to sub-cost pricing by a company in a dominant position with the intention of excluding competition.
The Market Court ruled on the matter on 26 June 2014, imposing on Valio a MEUR 70 fine in accordance with the Competition and Consumer Authority’s submission. Thereafter, Valio appealed to the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court, with a ruling handed down today on 29 December 2016, upheld the outcome of the Market Court ruling. The Supreme Administrative Court viewed Valio’s pricing of milk as a prohibited restriction of competition and imposed on Valio a MEUR 70 fine. The fine is the largest such administrative fine to be imposed on a single undertaking in Finnish history.
Dittmar & Indrenius’ Competition practice acted as counsel to the Competition and Consumer Authority, whose submission was approved both in the Market Court as well as in the Supreme Administrative Court.
Prior to the current matter, the largest fine for a competition infringement on a single undertaking in Finland had been imposed by the Supreme Administrative Court on Lemminkäinen Corporation in what is known as the ‘asphalt cartel’ case, decided on 29 September 2009 with an amount of MEUR 68. The MEUR 82.55 aggregate of all fines imposed on the asphalt cartel still stands as the largest aggregate of fines ordered in a single matter in Finland. Likewise, Dittmar & Indrenius’ Competition practice acted as counsel to the Competition and Consumer Authority in this matter.
Victims of a competition infringement may claim damages from the infringing company. The relevant statute, the Finnish Act on Damages for Competition Infringement, entered into force on 26 December 2016.
In addition to acting as counsel to the Competition and Consumer Authority in the Valio matter, Dittmar & Indrenius’ Competition lawyers have assisted or currently assist various parties in all other major cases of competition infringement and/or the damages litigation related thereto, including for example in the asphalt, raw wood, car spare parts, power line, and coach cartel cases.