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ECJ: Advocate General stresses distancing from competition law infringements

On June 7, 2012 the Lithuanian Competition Council fined over 30 tour operators and travel agents for an anti-competitive concerted practice in the package tours sales market throughout Lithuania for an amount of EUR 1.5 Mio.

All of the participants had used the online booking system named “E-Turas”, which had posted a system notice on August 27, 2009 alerting all users that discounts available would be capped at 3% when using the system after sending an email in which participants had been requested to vote on a proposed discount cap. 

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania referred to the Court of Justice in this case asking if the participation of undertakings in a common information system may allow a presumption that these knew or should have known about applicable discount restrictions despite they had not implemented it.

The opinion of Advocate General Mciej Spzunar in case C-74/14 was published last week. Accordingly, the Lithuanian court was right in its ruling. The email requesting the users to vote on the cap proves that E-Turas had not acted unilaterally as a third party. Hence, those who received the system notice on August 27 and did not notify it to the authority “tactily approved that illicit initiative” by not publically distancing themselves from it. Thus, companies should publicly distance themselves from any anti-competitive agreement.

Authors:

 

Dr. Christina Hummer
Ori Kahn