On 16 October, the Competition Council (CC) of Latvia hosted the third Lawyers’ Forum –annual discussion between representatives of the Latvian competition authority and law offices. During the forum, experts and lawyers who otherwise meet at more formal context, discussed topical issues in application of the competition law, as well as mutually in an open conversation searched for the solutions to solve existing challenges.

This year, the CC developed and launched for the public consultation guidelines on merger notification. To improve the guidelines, experts discussed changes and additions to be made after receiving suggestions from undertakings and their representatives. For example, lawyers pointed that in case of publishing a new merger notification to the CC’s website, it would be preferred to not only indicate the merging undertakings, but also affected markets.  Thus, it would be easier for other undertakings to provide with a sound opinion on the impending merger.

The CC works with the commercial secret containing information on the daily basis, therefore lawyers were welcomed to debate topics regarding the flow of such information in the competition authority and in the court. As it is planned with amendments to the regulatory framework to provide a stricter protection of the commercial secret containing information, the CC indicated the necessity for undertakings to justify more closely which information should be entitled with a status of a limited access. 

Although the Leniency Program in Latvia is in force for more than ten years, only during the previous two years the CC has received the first Leniency applications and taken the first decisions. Therefore, the third topic of the Lawyers’ Forum was devoted to conclusions and experience gained from these first cases. Additionally, experts discussed information that should be included within guidelines of the program.

The concluding topic of the forum was devoted to decisions, inquiries, letters and consultations of the CC, as well as to ways how undertakings may use such different types of information.

During the forum, experts discussed the differences between formal procedures laid down by the Competition Law and less formal solutions which are provided by the CC. The CC agreed with lawyers to search for a way to gather and publish the most frequently asked legal questions, thus, information could be used by all interested persons.  

Mr Māris Spička, the Head of the Legal Department of the CC, said: “The Forum has proven to be an excellent opportunity to understand what is necessary for a better cooperation and to clear questions that have not been fully understood by parties. Also, we have received valuable suggestions on topics for the next Lawyers’ Forum.”