The Competition Council (CC) of Latvia has developed and put out for public consultation a draft strategy of case prioritisation on 10 June 2014. The strategy sets out general principles and specific criteria on how to set operational priorities in order to focus the resources of the CC on the effective protection of the public interest and the promotion of consumers’ welfare.
Considering that the CC has to operate with limited resources, it is of great importance that the financial and human resources at its disposal are used for targeted investigations in markets that are important for the public and for removing those infringements which cause the most severe damage. When less harmful infringements are to be tackled, fewer resources can be invested. For example, the authority can act as negotiator between undertakings or, if a case is initiated, ask for a greater participation of the parties into the investigation.
The draft strategy stresses that prohibited practices such as price-fixing, market or customer-sharing or restriction of production or distribution are not to be tolerated. Combating such infringements has therefore been set as one of the key priorities of the CC.
To determine whether a case is a priority, the CC will take the following criteria into consideration: the severity and duration of the potential infringement; the number of persons affected; other legal means of redress available to the undertakings involved; the impact of the situation on the economy; the market position of the undertakings involved; the recurrence of the behaviour as well as whether the authority has sufficient information indicating the existence of the infringement. Cases in which the CC would consider providing a novel interpretation of competition law issues or evaluating a market which has not been researched before would also be regarded as significant.
According to the draft strategy, high priority status is always allocated to certain types of cases such as cases where assistance in investigations of the European Commission or other Member-States of the European Union is requested.
When setting out its prioritisation strategy, the CC considered both its own experience and that of other competition authorities, as well as recommendations by international organizations, including the ICN and the ECN.
The public consultation will be closed on 8 September 2014.
See further information (in Latvian).