LITHUANIAN KONKURENCIJOS TARYBA HAS BEEN RATED AS ONE OF MOST ACTIVE COMPETITION AGENCIES IN EUROPE
The antitrust and competition law journal and news service Global Competition Review has conducted an annual survey of the world‘s leading competition authorities and for six years in a row gave the Lithuanian Konkurencijos taryba three stars out of five, placing it next to competition agencies from Sweden, Norway, Netherlands or Belgium.
International team of competition law experts noted that Konkurencijos taryba remains one of the most active and competent competition agencies in Europe. The authority has been praised for starting to use more economic tools in merger cases enabling it to evaluate possible negative effects of concentrations and ensuring that the intended mergers would not result in the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, or significant restrictions of competition in the relevant markets.
Additionally, the observers positively evaluated a competition law amendment, according to which an up to EUR 100,000 reward can be paid to persons that provide to the authority evidence on alleged cartel agreements. It has been seen as a positive move encouraging persons to report about one of the most serious competition law infringements. The more tools the authority has to initiate serious abuse or cartel cases, the better it is for businesses, the lawyers said.
When asked to evaluate the last year‘s performance of Konkurencijos taryba, Lithuanian competition law experts had some remarks on the authority‘s merger control regime. According to the observers, “the authority is too “cautious”, especially when making simple decisions, and it often asks for unnecessary levels of detail”. Besides, according to the observers, the authority has been seen as unable to pursue complex abuse of dominance investigations due to small budget and limited staff resources.
“We appreciate that our efforts to ensure fair competition in the country are acknowledged by the world‘s competition law experts. At the same time we understand expectations of Lithuanian competition law practitioners and companies regarding faster legal procedures relating to the authority‘s investigations or merger examination. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the request for detailed information is firstly related to our functions, resources and intention to conduct an investigation or merger examination based on a comprehensive expert analysis“, – said Šarūnas Keserauskas, the authority‘s Chairman.
He also noted that the speed of the examination of a merger notification also depends on the quality of its preparation, which is usually done by companies‘ lawyers. If companies and their lawyers or other consultants objectively evaluate the effects of a merger on competition and provide all necessary information, merger examination process goes really smoothly.
“It is quite often the case that the merging parties provide merger filings without conducting a thorough analysis of the impact of the proposed merger, which may lead to false expectations regarding the speed of relevant procedures, scope of information to be provided or even the result of our assessment. However, despite any possible criticism, we are not going to satisfy these expectations. Only complete and thoroughly analysed information allows us to decide whether the indented merger would not create or strengthen the dominant position, or significantly restrict competition in the relevant markets. It is especially important now when the world‘s competition authorities are criticised for too concentrated markets or for allegedly too soft merger control“, – added Š. Keserauskas.
The Chairman also emphasised that it is highly important for the authority to have sufficient funding to maintain a stable team of competition law professionals and possess advanced tools to ensure that the protection of fair competition is even more effective. The authority continues to remain open for the suggestions of legal community on how various procedures could be improved so that they work better, – these issues are regularly addressed during the meetings with members of the Competition Law Committee of the Council of the Lithuanian Bar.