ADVOCATE GENERAL DELIVERS OPINION ON TRAVEL AGENCIES CASE
CJEU’s Advocate General delivered his opinion on the case concerning an anti-competitive agreement between Lithuanian travel agencies.
On 7 June 2012, the Competition Council found that 29 travel agencies used online booking system E-TURAS to concert practices when applying discounts to bookings and, thus, breached competition law.
For the breach, the Council imposed fines totaling ~1.5 million euros. The companies appealed against the Council‘s decision to Vilnius Supreme Administrative Court (further- the Court).
The Court decided to refer the case to CJEU for a ruling on the liability of the contractors.
Having taken into account all the circumstances, Advocate General Maciej Spunzar concluded that „the concept of a concerted practice covers the situation where several travel agencies use a common online travel booking system, and that system’s administrator posts a notice informing its users that following the proposals and wishes of the undertakings concerned the discounts applicable to clients will be restricted to a uniform maximum rate, this notice being followed by technical restriction on the choice of discount rates available to the users of the system. The undertakings which become aware of that illicit initiative and continue to use the system, without publicly distancing themselves from that initiative or reporting it to the administrative authorities, are liable for participating in that concerted practice“.
Advocate General‘s opinion does not constitute the final decision. The final decision is to be adopted this year. After that the Court will continue further examination of the case.Competition Council Spokesperson