Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for June 22nd, 2011

The Spanish CNC at the avant-garde of competition enforcement?

with 2 comments

Some posts ago we referred here to the Spanish Competition Authority’s decision sanctioning the main Spanish electricity companies with fines totaling some 61 million euros as a good illustration of how quantity and quality may not necessarily go hand in hand with regard to competition law enforcement in Spain.

(Btw, the comments to our previous post express interesting views on the CNC´s attitude and offers possible explanations to its causes. In the days after that post was published several other pieces on the CNC´s performance also appeared elsewhere).

As anticipated then, I believe that the “innovative” theories put forward by the CNC on its decision (which include “sham litigation” and a version of what Nicolas has labeled as “Karate competition law“) merit a comment on this blog, so here go some brief remarks on the decision:

(Before getting started, a disclaimer is in order: my firm is representing one of the entities sanctioned by the CNC. Accordingly, and although I am expressing my very personal views, you are at liberty to take them with a pinch of salt). Those interested in a summary overview of the facts and of the CNC’s official position, check out the CNC´s Press Release here.

Even though the decision declares that companies are responsible for two infringements I will merely focus on the one that can be of greater interest to our readers:

According to the CNC, this infringement consisted of a strategy (note: not a conduct, but a strategy revealed by circumstantial evidence) aimed at hindering customers from changing of electricity supplier at a moment in which deregulation was taking place.  One –the main- component of this strategy was an agreement adopted by electricity companies within the framework of their association to appeal a Ministerial Order on the grounds that it contravened data protection rules by not envisaging the right of companies to refuse to provide certain personal data.  The other alleged elements consisted of a temporal “cutt-off” of operations relating to applications to move to the free market (which both the Ministry and the Energy Regulator consider justified) as well as of a refusal to meet the requests of one supplier (that had previously been sanctioned by the CNC on a different decision).

(Click here if you’re interested in a comment on the issues that perplex me the most) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

22 June 2011 at 8:56 pm