In December 2021, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (“FCCA”) concluded the last three of its 13 probes on taxi brokerage companies launched in the spring of 2019. The purpose of the nationwide probe was to determine whether brokerage companies had violated the Competition Act while brokering Social Insurance Institute issued taxi rides.
In Finland, the taxi reform of 2018 liberalised the sector that had previously been heavily regulated. After the taxi reform entered into force, the FCCA was contacted on a great number of occasions by taxi entrepreneurs, which contributed to the launch of the investigations. Of the 13 probes launched, 12 were concluded on the grounds that the taxi brokerage companies subject to the probe changed their course of action that was under investigation. For one of the investigated companies, the FCCA found no evidence of problematic practices.
The concluded probes focused primarily on the possibility of taxi entrepreneurs to engage in business based on Social Insurance Institute issued taxi rides, the practice related to the distribution of said rides and the possibilities of taxi entrepreneurs to take rides from several taxi brokerage companies simultaneously. In its investigations, the FCCA considered the following practices to be particularly problematic:
A special feature of the taxi market in Finland is that taxi brokerage companies are often owned by taxi entrepreneurs. Therefore, the FCCA primarily investigated into the operation of brokerage companies, considering it as a form of illegal cooperation between companies that compete with each other.
However, brokerage companies often have a very strong position in their traditional operating areas, and taxi entrepreneurs are often dependent on access to local brokerage companies. Thus, the behaviour of the brokerage companies was assessed in the light of both Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
In addition to the Social Insurance Institution related drives, the FCCA concluded another taxi probe regarding illegal cartel activities in the Hyvinkää area in 2021. Taxi entrepreneurs operating in the area had agreed that taxi drivers would not drive up to taxi stands to wait for fares outside their driving shifts. The FCCA ordered the entrepreneurs to cease the illegal conduct and enforced its order with conditional fines. However, the FCCA did not make a penalty payment proposal for the behaviour to the Market Court.