El Gobierno ha publicado de manera urgente el Real Decreto-Ley 9/2017, de 26 de mayo (RDL), por el que se transpone la Directiva 2014/04/UE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo, de 26 de noviembre de 2014 (Directiva), en el ordenamiento jurídico español. La urgencia en este caso se debe al hecho de que la Directiva debería haber sido transpuesta a finales del año 2016, y a que el objeto de la Directiva tiene potencial para desencadenar la responsabilidad del Estado frente a los particulares por su aplicación tardía. La urgencia también se justifica por el hecho de que la Comisión Europea dio comienzo en enero a un procedimiento de infracción contra España. Por lo tanto, aunque no es recomendable que esta legislación sea aprobada sin un debate parlamentario, no es de extrañar que se haya utilizado por ello la figura del Real Decreto-Ley.
Implementation of the Antitrust Damages Directive in Spain
The government has issued an urgent Royal Decree-Law 9/2017 of 26 May (RDL) implementing Directive 2014/104/UE, of the European Parliament and the Council, of 26 November 2014 (Directive) into Spanish law. A Royal Decree-law is an instrument used by the government to legislate on matters that require urgency, subject to subsequent validation by Parliament. The urgency in this case is due to the fact that the Directive should have been implemented end of 2016; and that the subject-matter of the Directive has potential to trigger the State’s liability vis-à-vis individuals for late implementation; the urgency is also justified by the fact that the European Commission had already opened an infringement procedure against Spain in January. Hence, although it is not desirable that this legislation is approved without parliamentary debate, it is not surprising that an urgent Royal Decree-law has been used.
In a blow to parallel trading of pharmaceuticals, the National Competition Authority clears the dual-pricing system applied by PFIZER (case S/DC/0546/15 PFIZER/COFARES)
On 19 January 2017 the Spanish Competition Authority (SCA) issued a decision clearing PFIZER of antitrust charges and blessing PFIZER’s dual pricing system (SCA Decision).
In 2009, the SCA decided (First Decision) to close the antitrust investigation against COMPAÑÍA FARMACÉUTICA ESPAÑOLA, S.A. (COFARES), a wholesale distributor, and PFIZER. The investigation started following a complaint filed by SPAIN PHARMA, S.A. (SPAIN PHARMA) reporting the existence of an agreement by means of which PFIZER prevented COFARES from exporting PFIZER’s pharmaceutical specialties to other EU States and established a dual-pricing system on the basis of geographic destination of the pharmaceuticals.
Spain / Mergers: Table of merger decisions issued by the Spanish Competition Authority (SCA) between 1 December 2016 and 7 March 2017.
Spain / Mergers / Healthcare: Vertical integration in the healthcare business – acquisition of QuironSalud by Fresenius (Decision of 22 December 2016).
Spain / Judicial activity / Parent-subsidiary relation: The Supreme Court upholds the appeal filed by a parent company fined for anticompetitive behaviour by a subsidiary (Judgment of 18 January 2016, case 2359/2013).
Spain / Judicial activity / Blablacar regulation: A First Instance Commercial Court dismisses the lawsuit filed against Blablacar for unfair competition stating that Blablacar is a platform that focuses exclusively on private transport and is therefore not subject to the transportation regulations (Judgment of the Commercial Court of 2 February 2017).
Spain / Restrictive practices investigation / Excessive prices: The SCA has initiated an investigation against Aspen Pharma for alleged excessive pricing.
Spain / Regulation / Public procurement: The SCA issued guidance to identify potential fraud in public procurement.
Spain / Judicial activity / The principle of legitimate expectations: The Spanish Supreme Court has issued a judgment regarding the interpretation of the principle of legitimate expectations.
Spain / Restrictive practices / Rail-cargo market: The SCA has fined several RENFE and Deutsche Bahn for blocking the liberalization of the rail-cargo market (Decision of 28 February 2017, file S/DC/0511/14 RENFE OPERADORA).
EU / Preliminary ruling / The SCA creation: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules that the creation of the current SCA breached EU law (ECJ Judgment of 19 October 2016, case C-424/15).
The Spanish National Competition Authority issues guidance on dawn raids in Spain
On 7 June 2016, the National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC) has published a notice (Notice) providing information on the procedure followed by NMCC when carrying out dawn raids. The NMCC’s note contemplates the main milestones of an inspection (i.e., legal authorization and entry into the premises of the company, powers of the inspectors, rights and obligations of companies and the treatment of the information seized). In particular:
La Autoridad Española de la Competencia emite unas directrices sobre las inspecciones sorpresa
El 7 de junio de 2016, la Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y de la Competencia (CNMC) ha publicado una nota informativa (Nota) en la que detalla el procedimiento de inspección de empresas llevado a cabo por la CNMC. La Nota de la CNMC contempla los principales hitos de una inspección (i.e., la autorización judicial de entrada en las instalaciones de la empresa, las facultades de los inspectores, derechos y obligaciones de las empresas y el tratamiento de la información recabada). En particular:
Propuesta de Ley para la transposición en España de la Directiva relativa a las normas por las que se rigen las acciones por daños por infracción del Derecho de la competencia de los Estados miembros y de la Unión Europea
El Ministerio de Justicia ha publicado su propuesta de Ley (Propuesta)1 para la transposición en España de la Directiva 2014/104/UE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo, de 26 de noviembre de 2014 (Directiva). Según fuentes del Ministerio de Justicia, la Propuesta será sometida a consulta pública, momento en que los interesados podrán presentar sus puntos de vista. La fecha límite de transposición de la Directiva por parte de los Estados miembros en sus respectivos ordenamientos jurídicos finaliza el 27 de diciembre de 2016.
Legislative Proposal for the implementation of the EU antitrust damages Directive in Spain
The Ministry of Justice has published its proposal (Proposal) on the implementation in Spain of Directive 2014/104/UE, of the European Parliament and the Council, of 26 November 2014 (Directive). Before initiating the parliamentary approval process, the Proposal should be formally submitted by the government. According to sources of the Ministry of Justice, the Proposal will be subject to public consultation, during which stakeholders can submit their views. The deadline for Member States to implement the Directive in
their respective domestic legal systems expires on 27 December 2016. At this stage, it is not entirely clear whether or not that deadline will be met in Spain since, subsequent to the December 2015 parliamentary elections, no stable coalition to form a new government is in sight. This may lead to new elections in June, which (in view of the currently divisive environment both at party level and public opinion), may well result in a new de facto stalemate, without a majority government having full legislative initiative.
Spain / Judicial activity / Insurance cartel: The Supreme Court annuls several High Court judgments in connection with a decennial liability insurance cartel (Judgement of 27 May 2015).
Spain /Judicial activity / Abuse of dominant position / Postal Service:The National High Court has annulled the decision of the National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC) fining Sociedad Estatal de Correos y Telégrafos, S.A. for abuse of dominant position (Judgement of 1 July 2015).
Spain / Restrictive practices / Bar associations:The NMCC has fined the Las Palmas and Guadalajara Bar Associations and the General Council of Spanish Advocates for anticompetitive practices (Decisions of 15 and 29 September 2015, files SACAN/31/2013 and S/0491/13).
Spain / Gun jumping:The NMCC has fined Grifols S.A. for failure to notify the acquisition of certain assets of Novartis International A.G. (Decision 16 October 2015, file SNC/DC/0037/15).
Spain / Mergers / Media:The NMCC has fined Mediaset and Atresmedia for breaching mandatory commitments attached to the concentrations, Telecinco / Cuatro and Antena3 / La Sexta.
Spain / Telecom:The NMCC has fined Orange Espagne, S.A.U. (Orange) for preventing its users from switching their fixed phone operator (Decision of 22 October 2015, file SNC/DTSA/1847/14 PORTABILIDADES IRREGULARES ORANGE).
Spain /Regulation / Mergers procedure:Public consultation: The NMCC has amended the Notice on short form merger filings.
Spain /Regulation / Telecom:The NMCC has approved the draft regulation for high-speed broadband wholesale markets.
EU / Judicial activity / Cartel facilitators:The European Court of Justice has issued a landmark judgment clarifying how antitrust law should treat cartel “facilitators” (Judgment 22 October 2015, Treuhand,C-194/14P).
Mergers:The Spanish National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC)approves the acquisition of DISTRIBUIDORA DE TELEVISIÓN DIGITAL S.A. by TELEFÓNICA DE CONTENIDOS S.A.U. subject to remedies on second phase (Decision of 23 April 2015, file C/0612/14).
Restrictive practices: The NMCC imposes fines upon several oil companies totalling €32 million for price-fixing, market and sensitive information sharing (Decision 20 February 2015, file S/0474/13).
Restrictive practices: The NMCC has imposed fines totalling €57.7 million on 18 companies and one trade association operating in the markets of paper and corrugated cardboard manufacturing (Decision of 18 June 2015, file S/0463/13).
Restrictive practices:The NMCC has imposed fines totalling €171 million on 21 automobile manufacturing and distributing companies in Spain, as well as two consulting companies, for anti-competitive practices (Decision of 23 July 2015, file S/0482/13).
Restrictive practices: The NMCC has fined Telefónica and DTS €15.5 million for the unlawful marketing of football broadcasting rights (Decision of 24 July 2015, file S/0436/12).
Regulation: New trade Regulation applicable to the marketing of football events broadcasting rights.
Regulation: Public consultation: Amendment to the NMCC Notice on the merger cases resulting from the application of the short form filing.
Judicial activity: The High Court clarifies rules to calculate deadlines for punishing proceedings initiated by the NMCC (Judgments of 9 and 20 March 2015).
Judicial activity: Dawn raids: the Supreme Court has annulled two fines imposed by the National Competition Commission to a Spanish Shipping Company (Judgments of 1 June 2015).
Nueva regulación aplicable a la comercialización de los derechos de retransmisión de futbol
A nadie sorprende si se le dice que las emisiones de eventos futbolísticos en España son un gran negocio. Los derechos de retransmisión de partidos de fútbol tienen un gran valor económico lo cual, unido a la gran popularidad de este deporte, ha ocasionado que, de forma histórica, el mercado de derechos audiovisuales del fútbol haya estado en el punto de mira de las autoridades.
El pasado 1 de mayo, el Gobierno publicó el Real Decreto-Ley 5/2015, de medidas urgentes en relación con la comercialización de los derechos de explotación de contenidos audiovisuales de las competiciones de fútbol profesional (RDLF), poniendo fin a largas y complejas negociaciones entre todas las partes interesadas, entre las cuales se encuentran la Liga Española de Fútbol (de la que forman parte todos los clubes de fútbol profesionales), la Federación Española de Fútbol y el Gobierno.
New Trade Regulation Applicable to the Marketing of Football Broadcasting Rights. A Competitive Outcome?
You may be forgiven for thinking that broadcasting of football (soccer) events in Spain is big business. With some world class football clubs, broadcasting rights owned by Spanish football clubs are big cash generators, and the great popularity of football has historically caught the attention of the authorities.
On May 1st, the Spanish Government has published Royal Decree-Law 05/2015, of urgent measures in relation to the distribution of the exploitation rights of audiovisual contents of professional football competitions (RDLF). The approval and entry into force of the RDLF puts an end to long and complex negotiations between all stakeholders including the Spanish Football League (comprising all professional football clubs), the Spanish Football Federation and the Go
The National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC) approves the acquisition of DISTRIBUIDORA DE TELEVISIÓN DIGITAL S.A. (DTS) by TELEFÓNICA DE CONTENIDOS S.A.U. (Telefónica) subject to remedies on second phase (Decision of 23 April 2015, file C/0612/14)
The approved transaction consists of the acquisition by Telefónica (incumbent telecommunications operator also active in the pay TV market) of the exclusive control of DTS, through the purchase of the 56 % share capital in the hands of Prisa, which adds to the 44% share capital already owned by Telefónica.
The NMCC has approved the transaction of reference after an in-depth (second phase) investigation subject to commitments offered by Telefónica. Telefónica has proposed a five-year duration commitment package (renewable for three additional years) from the moment the NMCC Decision is deemed final (i.e., 30 April 2015). During this period, the resulting entity may request an amendment to the commitments offered if a significant change in the structure or regulation of the markets in question occurs.
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission approves the acquisition by Schibsted España S.L.U. of Milanuncios S.L.U. subject to remedies in a second phase merger review (Decision of 20 November 2014, file C/0573/14).
Spain: The High Court has annulled inspections carried out by the National Competition Commission in two separate infringement procedures (Judgments of 10 December 2014).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has imposed fines of EUR 98.2 million on 39 companies and three trade associations active in the waste management and urban sanitation in Spain (Decision of 8 January 2015, file S/0429/12).
Spain: The Spanish Supreme Court has issued a landmark judgment regarding the interpretation of the 10% turnover limit for cartel fines (Judgment of 29 January 2015), confirming that fines for antitrust infringements may reach 10% of group turnover.
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has imposed fines totalling EUR 4 million for alleged bid-rigging regarding the supply of to RENFE, the national railway operator (Decision of 29 January 2015, file S/0453/12).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has fined various Spanish milk suppliers EUR 88.2 m (Decision of 26 February 2015, file S/0425/12).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has imposed fines totalling EUR 9 m on 45 car dealerships operating in the country’s car distribution market for an infringement of Article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act (Decisions of 5 March 2015, files S/0486/13, S/0488/13 and S/0489/13).
The National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC) has fined totalling EUR 88.2 m various Spanish milk suppliers
The NMCC has imposed fines totaling EUR 88.2m on nine companies and two associations operating in the country’s raw cow milk supply market for an infringement of Article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act (SCA) and Article 101 TFEU.
The NMCC initiated proceedings as a result of a report on the dairy industry referred by the Regional Competition Authority from Castilla y León. This report stated (i) the existence of an alleged anticompetitive behavior in the raw cow milk supply market and (ii) a complaint submitted by Unions Agrarias (a small farmer trade union) against milk processing companies.
The Spanish Supreme Court has issued a landmark judgment regarding the interpretation of the 10% turnover limit for cartel fines proceedings
The Supreme Court (SC) has partially confirmed the interpretation followed by the National High Court (NHC) over the last two years regarding the limit of 10% of the company’s turnover established under Article 63 (1) of the Spanish Competition Act (SCA) for the calculation of fines.
In its recent judgment, the SC has construed the legal provision as meaning that the percentage limits under Article 63 (1) SCA are the maximum limits of fines that may be imposed by the Spanish Competition Authority, the National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC).
Spain:The High Court considers the willingness to end the infringement as an attenuating circumstance(Judgment of 28 May 2014).
Spain:Gun jumping: The National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC) has fined ESSILOR INTERNATIONAL S.A. (ESSILOR) for failure to notify a concentration operation (Decision of 31 July 2014, Case ESSILOR, file SNC/DC/0035/14).
Spain:The High Court has reduced the NMCC fine on two companies in the asphalt industry (Judgment of 23 June 2014).
Spain:The Commercial Court of Madrid has condemned ASEFA S.A. and Caja de Seguros Reunidos, Compañia de Seguros y Reaseguros, S.A. to indemnify MUSAAT for damages arising from anticompetitive practices (Judgment of 9 May 2014).
Spain:The High Court has annulled the decision of the former NMCC fining the manufacturers of paper envelopes for an export cartel (Judgment of 27 June 2014).
European Union:The General Court has annuled a fine for Soliver in car glass cartel (Judgment of the General Court of 10 October 2014, Soliver vs Commission, case T‐68/09).
European Union:The General Court finds that Spain’s tax rules regarding the amortization of goodwill for foreign acquisitions is compliant with EU State a id rules.
Antitrust liability of Trade Association Members in case of infringement by the Trade Association
If your company is a member of one of the myriad of trade associations active in Spain you should stop for a second and think about this: your company may be found to be liable for antitrust fines imposed on the trade association of which your company is a member; and indeed your company is very likely to be found liable, since these associations usually lack any substantial economic capacity and very often association members are unlikely to reach any understanding to finance the association’s fine.
Although the below is drafted having Spanish law in mind, the legal conclusions are applicable mutatis mutandis, to EU law.
Spanish audiovisual watchdog punishes TV Operators for breaching rules on advertising and harmful content
The Spanish National Markets and Competition Commission (NMCC) has recently fined TV operators Mediaset, Atresmedia and Net TV three TV operators for breaching the rules on advertising and inappropriate contents enshrined in Law 7/2010 on Audiovisual Communication (Audiovisual Act).
The NMCC, created in 2013 as the result of the integration into one agency of the competition Authority and several sectorial regulators, is endowed with surveillance powers regarding audiovisual communications. The recently published sanctioning decisions prove that superregulator is set to enforce such powers.
Spain: In a landmark ruling, the Spanish Supreme Court has ordered the payment of a compensation for antitrust damages to several candy manufacturers (Judgment of 7 November 2013).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission ends proceedings against Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange for an alleged abuse of collective dominant position (Case Llamadas Moviles S/0391/11).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has fined the Regional Association of Travel Agents of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and several taxi driver associations for fixing the prices of pre-booked taxis (Case Taxis Tenerife Sacan S/0018/12).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission publishes its strategic plan.
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has fined several manufacturers of firefighting
equipment for being involved in a cartel (Decision of 26 June 2014, Case Fire‐Fighting Equipment
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission has fined Endesa Distribución Eléctrica S.A. for
abuse of dominant position (Decision of 21 July 2014).
Spain: The National Markets and Competition Commission obliges the Spanish Football Federation to
comply with the principles of transparency, objectivity and non‐discrimination in the bidding for the
broadcasting rights concerning the King’s Cup Final and the Spanish Super Cup (Decision of 30 July 2014).
European Union:European Union: The General Court of the European Union confirms the Commission’s 2009 Decision against Intel (Judgment of 12 June 2014, Case T‐286/09).
European Union: The Court of Justice confirms the general principle that “umbrella pricing” victims may obtain compensation from the members of a cartel even if there is no contractual relationship with them (Judgment of 5 June 2014, Case C-557/12).
European Union: The European Commission adopts a revamped De Minimis Notice and an accompanying Staff Working Paper providing guidance on restrictions of competition by object.