Companies hoping for an ace up their sleeve in disputes with UOKiK
Does the recent judgment of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection put into question the competition authority’s power to impose penalties in some sectors, such as telecoms or construction ? Most lawyers seem to think so.
Legal experts have generally adopted the view that, if the recent judgment of the Regional Court in Warsaw from 13 January 2020 (case XVII AmA 12/18) stands on appeal, business enterprises will gain a basis for challenging penalties imposed by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK). So, is the President of UOKiK within his powers if he fines enterprises for violation of collective consumer interests in areas such as food safety, telecoms, or construction ? Practice to date did not entertain any doubts in this respect. Yet the above decision recently handed down in the Aflofarm case (described in these pages two weeks ago) has introduced new uncertainty on this point.
Just to refresh: the present judgment overturns the PLN 26 mln penalty imposed on Aflofarm by UOKiK for misleading consumers. The Regional Court has adopted the position that UOKiK was acting outside its remit in penalising incorrect labelling of foodstuffs because powers in this respect are accorded to the competent sanitary inspectorate in accordance with art. 103.1.lb of the legislative Act of 25 August 2006 regarding food and nutrition safety. Importantly enough, the other measures applied by UOKiK were kept in place, such as the obligation to take out space in the mass media announcing that the competition authority had established a violation of collective consumer interests or the duty to cover the costs of proceedings (Aflofarm refused to comment). (...)
The full text of this article is available (in Polish) in Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (10.03.2020 r.). If you are interested in an English-language version, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org