Dawn raids relating to agriculture machinery in Poland

The Polish Competition Authority (UOKiK) recently announced that it has conducted one of the largest dawn raids in its 35-year history at the premises of entities that produce or offer farming machinery in Poland.

The UOKiK suspects that local dealers of agricultural machinery allegedly allocated markets, meaning that farmers were deterred from purchasing machinery outside of allocated territory. The UOKiK is also investigating the alleged possibility of price fixing and sharing sensitive market information among competitors.

The inspections were conducted as part of three separate instances of explanatory proceedings concerning brands owned by three separate groups:

  1. CLAAS;
  2. CNH Group (New Holland Agriculture, Case IH, Steyr Traktoren);
  3. AGCO Group (Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Valtra).

The UOKiK conducted the inspections before 20 May 2023 (likely in February or March 2023), that is, under the “old” provisions, i.e., before the act implementing the ECN+ Directive (2019/1) entered into force. That amendment changed the authority’s powers of inspection, as we reported in our article.

Although little is known about the companies and products involved, the case seems to resemble the truck dealer cartel cases concerning DAF and Iveco vehicles, where the UOKiK also suspected market allocation arrangements among dealers operating within distribution networks.

A possible cartel on the Polish market for agricultural machinery would be an important development in the UOKiK’s track record of public enforcement against cartels.

It would probably also spark interest among farmers and leasing companies, who could seek damages for any price increases related to the agriculture machinery offered by cartel members. Only time will tell what the scope and value of such potential claims might be. For now, the UOKiK must prove that the alleged cartel operated to the detriment of its customers.

An English version of the UOKiK press release can be accessed under the following link.

For more information, please contact Marcin Alberski or Szymon Gołębiowski.

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