The Chairwoman of the Competition Council of Latvia Skaidrīte Ābrama has signed the cooperation memorandum regarding implementation of the principle “Consult at first” in the work of the Competition Council. The purpose of the principle is to improve cooperation between the authorities and entrepreneurs, in order to facilitate the fulfilment of requirements effective in the country and clear conditions for operation rather than punishing at first.
The Competition Council commenced the “consulting at first” or prevention before adoption of the decision about the infringement and imposing of a fine already in 2013. If the authority finds potential signs of the infringement, but they are not repeated and have not affected a big share of the market and society, the authority uses alternative possibilities for prevention of the infringement, without formal initiation of the case. Formal investigation of violations may last up to two years, therefore the alternative methods enable to eliminate the possible infringement faster by saving the resources of all involved parties.
In case of the possible abuse of the dominant position the Competition Council performs negotiation procedure, but in cases of suspicion on the implementation of prohibited agreements – issues warnings. Since 2013 the Competition Council has issued 22 warnings to 71 persons and has performed 11 negotiation procedures, including in one case regarding the possible infringement of the provisions of the Advertising Law.
Another aspect of prevention or consulting on the daily activity of the authority is control of merger of the biggest companies. To facilitate preparation of the merger notification or establish that the notification should not be submitted at all, the Competition Council offers pre-merger consultations. Since 2015 the authority has provided 74 such consultations.
Skaidrīte Ābrama, the Chairwoman of the Competition Council: “Use of prevention, including alternative methods, in case of potential infringements has justified itself in the practice of the Competition Council. Competition restrictions have been eliminated faster and at the same time entrepreneurs or other involved parties have increased their understanding on the need to operate in accordance with the principles of fair commercial activities, without the presence of repressive methods. It is very positive that none of the current participants of the prevention have appeared in the view of the authority for similar activities.”
The cooperation memorandum regarding joining the implementation of the principle “Consult at first” was signed at the Cabinet of Ministers by representatives of the state authorities and the biggest associations of entrepreneurs of Latvia.