Collective disputes against anti-competitive undertakings are expected to increase to cover damage caused to natural or legal persons in connection with the purchase of goods or services.
An Emergency Ordinance was issued at the end of the previous week by which any person who has suffered damage as a result of an infringment by an undertaking or association of undertakings of the competition rules will be able to claim compensation. An enterprise is any entity that carries out economic activity that consists in offering goods or services.
In 2017, a similar Ordinance was published, which was approved by a law that was declared unconstitutional, by a decision of the Constitutional Court published in July a.c. In order to avoid fines from the European Commission of at least EUR 1.8 million, the Government has adopted a new Emergency Ordinance to fill a legislative gap.
The purpose of this Ordinance is to discourage anti-competitive activities with an impact on employment, economic growth, competitiveness and innovation capacity of Romanian companies.
It is expected that this Emergency Ordinance will give rise to collective disputes in which persons who have suffered competition damage will claim from the undertakings concerned the payment of compensation and the related interest. Any direct or indirect buyer can file such actions, and the court has the right to estimate the share of the surcharge, respectively the difference between the price actually paid and the price that should have been paid in the absence of a violation of the law.
The court has the right to estimate the amount of damage, and in the case of some cartels, a damage of 20% of the price of the products or services is presumed by law.
The disputes will be settled by the Bucharest Tribunal, the solution being able to be appealed to the Court of Appeal and to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. Failure to present evidence, destruction or non-compliance with the measures ordered by the court can attract fines ranging from 500 to 5,000 lei for individuals and between 0.1% and 1% of turnover in the previous year for legal entities.
The limitation period for such actions is five years and the undertakings which have infringed the competition rules are jointly and severally liable for the damage caused.
The procedural provisions shall apply retroactively starting to the actions brought on 26 December 2014.