SUPREME ADMINISTRATIVE COURT OF LITHUANIA UPHOLDS COMPETITION AUTHORITY’S DECISION ON DRIVING SCHOOLS' CARTELS
Driving schools and the Lithuanian association of driving schools (Association) which agreed to set prices of driving services for consumers will not avoid sanctions for cartel agreements. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Court), which partially amended the judgment of the court of first instance, reduced the fines only for two cartelists and extended the payment term of the fines for two other driving schools.
The Court confirmed that the Lithuanian competition authority had rightly established that 26 driving schools and the Association agreed to increase the prices of driving lessons in three cities of Lithuania, but, taking into account a difficult financial situation of two applicants, reduced the fines: EUR 11,500 fine imposed on Jono Jasučio įmonė was reduced by 50 per cent, whereas EUR 8,700 fine imposed on Jurbarko saugaus eismo centras was reduced by 10 per cent.
The Court also decided that company Tikslo linija can pay EUR 2,400 in equal instalments within 6 months, while EUR 129,300 fine imposed on LDV Unio can be paid within 12 months from the date of entry into force of the judgment.
The appeals of other 9 applicants have been dismissed since the Court ruled that Konkurencijos taryba had rightly imposed the fines, thus there are no legal grounds for their annulment or reduction.
In December 2018 Konkurencijos taryba announced that 26 driving schools and the Association fixed the prices of driving lessons in three cities of Lithuania – Vilnius, Kaunas and Jurbarkas. For instance, by April 2016 the prices of category B driver training ranged from EUR 270 to EUR 419 in Vilnius, while the prices of C, CE and D category courses varied from EUR 480 to EUR 732. Since July 2016 the prices applied by the majority of driving schools in Vilnius went up and reached almost the same level: category B training cost EUR 500, while that of C, CE and D categories – from EUR 700 to EUR 1,100. They only dropped in summer 2018 when the parties suspected of an infringement received the Statement of Objections raised against them.