COURTS FIND THE ADVERTISEMENT BY UAB LUKOIL AND UAB TŪTA TO BE MISLEADING
On February 13, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (the Court) upheld the Competition Council‘s (the Council) decision to impose a fine of 20 000 LTL on UAB Lukoil Baltija and a fine of 1 000 LTL on UAB Tūta for misleading advertising.
“We are happy to welcome the Court‘s ruling. We believe that this non-appealable ruling will deter the infringers and other companies from potential infringements that harm consumer rights. Once again, the Court acknowledged that the advertisement that may have an impact on economic behaviour of consumers should not be misleading; and the way an advertisement is presented also counts.”- says Elonas Šatas, the Deputy Chairman of the Council.
On 25 March 2013, the Council adopted a resolution whereby the advertising campaign “Sabonis 220” promoted by UAB Lukoil Baltija and UAB Tūta was found to be misleading. According to the advertisement, consumers purchasing petrol or other products in LUKOIL petrol stations for 30 LTL and more were promised stickers to purchase certain goods for a special price. However, already in the partway of the campaign period one of the advertised goods was not available for purchase. Such an advertisement could have mislead consumers and determined their choice to purchase petrol namely in LUKOIL petrol stations. The Council imposed a fine of 20 000 LTL on UAB Lukoil Baltija and a fine of 1 000 LTL on UAB Tūta for misleading advertising.
In 2013, the Council received about 300 complaints concerned with misleading advertising. The Council’s experts sent 119 warnings to advertising practitioners. In 2013, the Council adopted 7 resolutions on the infringements of the Law on Advertising. During the last two months the Council has received 37 complaints about allegedly misleading advertising and is currently carrying out four investigations on the suspected infringements of the Law on Advertising.
In 2013, the Council presented the Guidelines on Assessment of Misleading and Unlawful Comparative Advertising (the Guidelines). The Guidelines lay down major criteria applied in the assessment of advertising. Traders, advertising practitioners and other parties in advertising are advised to use the aforementioned criteria for assessing whether their advertisement is not misleading. The document includes a number of examples from the Council’s practice and court cases and summarizes information from the Law on Advertising, Law on Prohibition of Unfair Business-to-Consumers Commercial Practices, Law on Competition as well as provisions of the European Union directives, practices of courts and other sources. The Guidelines also clearly outline the wording to be avoided in advertising.
Together with the Guidelines the Council’s experts prepared a brief note wherein the most important criteria for advertising assessment, permitted and prohibited claims and other relevant information is presented in a concise and precise manner.Competition Council Spokesperson