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CCPC’s second annual report

  • Ireland
  • General

04-10-2017

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the “CCPC”) has published its second annual report, which details the work undertaken by the CCPC during the period from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016.

Key highlights include:

Enforcement

  • The CCPC reviewed 80 complaints relating to suspected breaches of competition law.
  • 12 witness summons and 11 formal requirements for information were issued in the course of investigating potential breaches of competition law.
  • The CCPC opened an investigation into potential bid rigging in the procurement of publicly funded transport services in certain parts of Munster and Leinster. As part of the investigation, in July 2016 the CCPC undertook searches at 20 locations in Tipperary, Waterford, Limerick and Kilkenny. Bid rigging can artificially increase prices and results in increased costs to businesses, the State and taxpayers.
  • The CCPC commenced an investigation into potential anti-competitive price signalling in the motor insurance market whereby a number of industry participants were openly announcing up-coming increases in motor insurance premiums. The CCPC was concerned that this type of practice could allow competitors on the market to strategically alter their conduct in response. This type of practice, if proven, may amount to a form of anti-competitive conduct known as a ‘concerted practice’. A concerted practice removes the uncertainty of market player’s conduct, which is characteristic of competitive markets.
  • The Approved Tour Guides of Ireland were directed to remove minimum recommended rates from their website following direction from the CCPC that they were in breach of competition legislation. Recommendations by trade associations of the minimum prices to be charged by their members are likely to distort or eliminate competition.
  • Relay Software Limited, a software services provider, and five major motor insurance providers entered into Agreements and Undertakings with the CCPC in relation to information sharing which breaches competition legislation. This investigation, which began in 2013, related to whether private motor insurance companies had access to competitor’s future pricing through a software product provided by Relay.
  • An investigation was opened against the Irish Property Owners Association (the “IPOA”). In December 2016, the IPOA released a press statement in response to legislation introducing rent controls in the private residential rental sector. In this statement the IPOA stated that following a meeting of its members, property owners were considering a range of potential measures, including the introduction of new charges to tenants and the withdrawal from State-sponsored rental schemes. The investigation was closed in January 2017 with the IPOA entering into an Agreement and Undertakings with the CCPC under which the IPOA gave binding commitments to: (i) retract the press statement; (ii) remind, in writing, members of the IPOA that the setting of rents and charges in the private rental sector are matters for individual landlords and their tenants; and (iii) introduce a compliance programme. Competition law forbids a trade association from co-ordinating the business conduct of its members.
  • The CCPC also has an on-going investigation into potential anti-competitive practices in the supply of bagged cement in Ireland.

Mergers

  • 70 merger Determinations were made, 69 of which were Phase 1 Determinations.
  • Four transactions required an extended Phase 1 examination.
  • Two of the Determinations involved commitments being given to the CCPC by the parties involved.
  • Phase 1 Determinations took on average 26 working days (compared with 24 working days in 2015). Individual case times varied between 12 and 30 working days
  • Five media mergers were notified.

CCPC’s priorities

  • The CCPC notes that cartels are, and will continue to be, one of the CCPC’s main enforcement priorities.
  • Another key priority for 2017 is to take enforcement action against firms engaging in information sharing and anti-competitive agreements.

For more information contact:

Sean Ryan
Partner
+353 1 6644207
seanryan@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Lisa Devanny
Solicitor
+353 1 6644296
lisadevanny@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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