In the first six months of 2018, the Competition Council of Latvia (the CC) has warned 34 persons because of activities which led to suspicion of prohibited coordination within six episodes of alleged infringements. These warned companies mainly operate in three sectors – burial, security and driving school services.
Prohibited agreements in procurements are constantly the most frequently detected and most severe infringement of Competition Law in Latvia. To ensure compliance of market participants with the principles of fairs competition, the CC implements the “Consult first” principles, which manifest as warnings and education of entrepreneurs.
In the first six months of 2018, providers of security, driving school and burial services have been under supervision of the CC and warned by the authority most frequently. To draw attention of market participants to the problem of bid-rigging in the sector, in April the CC organised a seminar also for participants of security sector, including associations represented by these participants.
The CC also carries out education activities proactively on the markets, where competition infringements have been detected previously to prevent reoccurrence of such infringements, informing sector participants and procurement organizers. Education of procurement organizers is significant as they are the first who can identify alleged coordination of activities of procurement participants, preventing such infringements by reporting to the CC. During the first six months of 2018, the CC educated representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Defence.
Within the cycle of seminars “On Fair Entrepreneurship”, the CC collectively with the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and the Procurement Monitoring Bureau also educated representatives of local governments and entrepreneurs of Jūrmala, Jēkabpils, Rēzekne and Kuldīga, whose daily work is related to procurements. The next seminar about bid-rigging in public procurements is planned to take place on September 12 in Ventspils.
The CC warns entrepreneurs without initiating formal investigation and without imposing a fine, if the alleged infringement is insignificant, is not committed repeatedly and the company undertakes not to repeat it in future, also when resources of the authority required for investigation of infringement may exceed the public benefit.
The CC indicates, that by now the warning method can be assessed as positive, because none of the warned companies has drawn attention of the CC repeatedly. If it would happen in relation to similar activities, the infringement would be investigated as a case of repeated infringement.