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

07.02.2019 NL law
The ACM follows EU approach in its first pharmaceutical merger

Short Reads - The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) recently reviewed its first merger between two pharmaceutical companies. In its conditional clearance of Aurobindo's acquisition of certain European Apotex assets, the ACM followed the European Commission's approach in assessing the merger's impact on competition. Companies will welcome the news that pharma mergers will be reviewed in a similar fashion, irrespective of whether the ACM or the European Commission conducts the review.

Read more

07.02.2019 EU law
Digitisation and competition law: past, present and future

Short Reads - It is nearly time for the European Commission to reveal its course of action in digitisation and competition law. Feedback from a public consultation and the recent conference on 'Shaping competition policy in the era of digitisation' together with the upcoming expert panel's report on the future challenges of digitisation for competition policy are likely to shape the Commission's course of action.

Read more

07.02.2019 NL law
Follow-on cartel damages claim dismissed: don't bury courts under paper work

Short Reads - A recent ruling by the Dutch Court of Appeal confirmed that claimants will need to sufficiently substantiate their claim that they suffered loss due to a cartel, even in follow-on cases. Despite a presumption that sales or service contracts concluded during the cartel period have been affected by the cartel, claimants will still need to provide the courts with concrete, detailed and uncluttered information showing (i) which party purchased (ii) which products from (iii) which manufacturer for (iv) which amount, preferably with copies of the relevant agreements.

Read more

07.02.2019 NL law
The need for speed in mergers is no reason to ignore rights of defence

Short Reads - On 16 January 2019, the European Court of Justice clarified the procedural guarantees the European Commission needs to provide to merging parties during merger reviews. According to the Court of Justice, the General Court (GC) had rightly annulled the Commission's decision to prohibit the merger of UPS and TNT. UPS's right of defence had been infringed because the Commission had failed to share the final version of the econometric model with UPS before adopting its prohibition decision.

Read more

28.01.2019 LU law
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg implements the Register of Beneficial Owners Law

Articles - The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has fulfilled its European obligations in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism by transposing Directive 2015/849 of 20 May 2015 (also known as the 4th EU AML Directive) into national law with the brand new Law of 13 January 2019 (the RBE Law). Below is an overview of the important disclosure obligations that will soon apply to a wide range of Luxembourg entities.

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