The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition imposed a fine for illegal price fixing agreements

By Vojtech Chloupek, Jiri Švejda

06-2020

Recently, the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition ("Office") published a press release (without publishing the full decision) regarding the imposition a fine for concluding and executing prohibited price fixing agreements.

In September 2018, the Office initiated administrative proceedings ex officio on the basis of a preliminary investigation triggered by a complaint regarding possible anticompetitive conduct by ABISTORE SPORT, s.r.o. ("the Company"). The Office also conducted an onsite investigation at the business premises. 

The Company is a wholesaler of sporting goods (e.g. fitness products; roller skates, skateboards and ice skates; equipment for badminton, tennis, squash and table tennis etc.) predominantly in B2B relationships without written agreement, but usually by telephone or e-mail order.

The Company required some retailers to strictly adhere to the set prices, on penalty of  restricted or interrupted supply of goods or even refusal of supply. The company's anticompetitive conduct between 2015 and 2018 was confirmed by e-mail communications provided to the Office as part of a local investigation. The Office succeeded in proving that the price agreements concluded and executed by the Company with its customers fulfil the formal and material aspects of prohibited agreements, which cause distortions of competition and have a negative impact on the quality and intensity of the competitive environment.

Therefore, the Office imposed on the Company a fine of CZK 1,851,000 (approx. EUR 70,000). Moreover, the Office prohibited the Company to conclude similar agreements in the future and at the same time imposed remedial measures including the obligation to inform all customers in writing about the prohibition and invalidity of these agreements, within 30 days after the entry into force of the decision of the Office. The decision is not yet final, because the party to the proceedings filed an appeal.

For more information contact Vojtech Chloupek and Jiri Svejda.