Articles

New Leniency Guidelines applicable in Belgium since 22 March 2016

New Leniency Guidelines applicable in Belgium since 22 March 2016

New Leniency Guidelines applicable in Belgium since 22 March 2016

04.04.2016 NL law

On 22 March 2016, the new Belgian Leniency Guidelines (the "Guidelines") entered into force. They apply to all leniency applications submitted after that date.

The most important change introduced by the Guidelines consists of practical rules for leniency applications submitted by individuals. Clarification regarding how these rules are implemented was required, particularly since the option for individuals to obtain immunity for ‘whistle blowing’ became part of the Belgian Code of Economic Law in 2013, and in light of potential sanctions against individuals for certain types of competition law infringements.

Individuals are always granted full immunity, regardless of where they rank in the order of applications submitted, provided that they respect the other conditions set out in the Guidelines. This is different from corporate leniency, where only the first applicant can obtain full immunity. The Guidelines also clarify that individuals may apply for leniency alone or together with the undertaking or association of undertakings for whom they work or used to work.

Furthermore, the Guidelines introduce new reduction percentages in relation to partial exemptions. When the Belgian Competition Authority already has information regarding the cartel, it may grant partial reduction to undertakings which submit evidence with a significant value. The fine reduction available to the first partial leniency applicant remains the same, namely between 30% and 50%. The second partial leniency applicant can obtain a reduction between 20% and 40% (previously 10-30%). The following applicants can receive a 10% to 30% reduction, which is the same as in the previous Guidelines.

While the conditions to be respected by the applicants, including the information that they should provide, are still more or less the same as those under the former leniency provisions, the 2016 Guidelines do provide some practical clarifications. These include the confidentiality obligations of a leniency applicant, the language to be used in the application, how to make contact with the Auditor General in order to submit such an application or to obtain information about the availability of an immunity application for the first undertaking, and the possibility to obtain a marker.

The Guidelines are still limited to cartel cases, with the express exclusion of other type of horizontal agreements and of vertical agreements. To the extent that a hub-and-spoke cartel can be qualified as a cartel, it will be covered. A hub-and-spoke cartel is an exchange of information between retailers (competitors) through one or more of their common suppliers. The Belgian Competition Authority has already granted immunity and leniency in a hub-and-spoke cartel case in 2015.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of April 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:

1. Court of Justice annulled Commission's requests for information in cement cartel case
2.
Initial findings of Commission's e-commerce sector inquiry show widespread use of geo-blocking
3.
ACM fined cold-storage companies and their executives EUR 12.5 million for breaching competition law during merger negotiations
4.
Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal confirmed that ACM can use EU-wide turnover in calculating the fines in onion cartel case
5. Belgian Constitutional Court rules that actions for antitrust damages cannot be time-barred before the final infringement decision is rendered

Team

Related news

10.10.2018 NL law
Ongevraagd advies Raad van State: normering van geautomatiseerde overheidsbesluitvorming

Short Reads - Op 31 augustus 2018 heeft de Afdeling advisering van de Raad van State (hierna: "Afdeling advisering") een 'Ongevraagd advies over de effecten van de digitalisering voor de rechtsstatelijke verhoudingen' betreffende de positie en de bescherming van de burger tegen een "iOverheid" uitgebracht. Het gebeurt niet vaak dat de Afdeling advisering zo een ongevraagd advies uitbrengt. Dit onderstreept het belang van de voortdurend in ontwikkeling zijnde technologie en digitalisering in relatie tot de verhouding tussen de overheid en de maatschappij.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
UK Court upholds fine against Ping for online sales ban

Short Reads - On 7 September 2018, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld the UK Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) decision fining Ping Europe Limited, a manufacturer of golf clubs, for violating EU and UK competition law by prohibiting two UK retailers from selling Ping golf clubs online. While the CAT reduced the fine from £1.45 million to £1.25 million, it confirmed that outright online sales bans in the context of selective distribution agreements are restrictive of competition by object.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

Short Reads - On 26 September 2018, the European Court of Justice partially set aside the judgment of the General Court in the smart card chips cartel case. Infineon had argued that the General Court wrongfully assessed only five out of eleven allegedly unlawful contacts. The Court agreed with Infineon insofar as its argument related to the amount of the fine imposed. Philips had also appealed the General Court judgment but that appeal was dismissed in its entirety meaning that the Court of Justice upheld the European Commission's decision and fine.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal annuls mail market analysis decision

Short Reads - On 3 September 2018, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) annulled the market analysis decision regarding 24-hour business mail issued by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on 27 July 2017. In appeal proceedings filed by PostNL, the CBb ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate that digital mail was not part of the relevant market for 24-hour business mail.

Read more

26.09.2018 EU law
Algemene bepalingen inzake oneerlijke handelspraktijken wijken voor specifiekere regelgeving

Articles - In geval van strijdigheid tussen de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken[1] (en bij uitbreiding de omzettingsbepalingen in Boek VI WER) en andere Europeesrechtelijke voorschriften betreffende specifieke aspecten van oneerlijke handelspraktijken, hebben deze laatste voorrang (zie artikel 3, lid 4 van de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken). Dat dit tot interessante discussies kan leiden, bleek uit een recent arrest van het Hof van Justitie[2].

Read more

Our website uses cookies: third party analytics cookies to best adapt our website to your needs & cookies to enable social media functionalities. For more information on the use of cookies, please check our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Please note that you can change your cookie opt-ins at any time via your browser settings.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring