The Competition Commission has reached its final decision concerning the terms, conditions and process for the replacement of fines with the undertaking of obligations – i.e. forced actions – for violating competition legislation. In doing so, the watchdog is aiming to accelerate the procedure, particularly since it provides for companies to state their preference to undertake such obligations at any point in the investigation of their case by the monitoring authority.
The Competition Commission will suspend its monitoring of any company that pledges to take specific actions. However, the watchdog notes that it frowns upon allowing enterprises to agree to commit to obligations after having been notified of the penalties against them.
In an effort to dispel any criticism concerning the possible favorable treatment of certain enterprises, the commission has decided to introduce a consultation process with market professionals and consumer associations regarding the proposed obligations. However, this public consultation will only take place when deemed necessary.
The option of forced actions will not be allowed in cases of price fixing, tender manipulation, output reduction, the application of quotas and distribution of purchases. The replacement of fines or other sanctions with the undertaking of obligations will also be forbidden in serious instances of abuse of dominant market position.
The commission will reserve the right to restart an investigation into companies that submit incorrect or misleading information or fail to implement the obligations they have undertaken. It will then be able to impose fines on them.