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COMPETITION LAW AMENDMENTS WILL ENSURE MORE EFFECTIVE COMPETITION ENFORCEMENT IN LITHUANIA

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Today Seimas adopted amendments to the Law on Competition which will transpose the provisions of the Directive of the European Parliament and Council into national law, ensuring uniform regulation of the activities of competition authorities across the EU, with regard to such matters as independence, resources, powers and sanctions. The amendments to the Law on Competition will enter into force on 1 November 2020.

Adopted law amendments describe in greater detail independence of the Lithuanian competition authority, in particular that it acts independently when enforcing antitrust rules and works in a fully impartial manner, without taking instructions from politicians or other entities, including state institutions and public or private entities.

What is more, the Law requires that the authority has sufficient financial, technical, technological and human resources to properly do its work. The aforementioned requirement will enable Konkurencijos taryba to apply the EU antitrust rules more effectively, for instance, conduct simultaneous inspections, use technologically advanced equipment helping to detect an alleged infringement, as well as have qualified staff able to conduct legal and economic assessment when investigating the infringements.

In order to properly implement the provisions of the aforementioned Directive, more clarity has been brought to the rules relating to leniency and reduction of fines, according to which undertakings that provide evidence about an ant-competitive agreement to Konkurencijos can expect a reduction or immunity from fines.

Other equally significant changes in the Law concern parental liability and succession so that companies could not escape fines through corporate re-structuring. Besides, to ensure that sanctions imposed on undertakings for breaches of EU antitrust rules are deterrent, fines will be calculated taking into account the undertaking‘s total worldwide turnover in the preceding business year.

Furthermore, staff responsible for the adoption of the decisions in Konkurencijos taryba, namely the Chairman and Council Members, as well as the administrative staff, after leaving state civil service will have a duty to abstain for seven years (this is how long usually court processes take place)  from representing the other party in matters related to infringements or merger control procedures that they were dealing with or took part in the adoption of the decisions.

The Law also includes new provisions relating to the collaboration with other EU authorities when enforcing the payment of fines against infringing companies that do not have property in Lithuania or, for example, when the need arises to hand over the documents when it is not possible to do so in Lithuania.