On 1 December 2014, the Hungarian Competition Office (HCO) began a market analysis of the sale and repair of passenger and light commercial vehicles in Hungary.

The HCO is likely to contact and request information from all major sellers, maintenance/repair companies and their respective trade associations and will also welcome  comments from other market players. We are of the view that this would provide a great opportunity to share your views and remarks on the current status of the markets subject to the current review.

It will be important to help the HCO to understand the actual structure of these markets and the key trends as, if the market analysis identifies any competition law concerns, the HCO could decide to launch antitrust investigations to gain a closer review of the relations between market players. With our widespread experience in competition law and our involvement in previous sector inquiries (in particular, the media sector inquiry launched in 2007 and closed in 2009), we would be more than happy to offer our assistance in communicating and cooperating with the HCO in the course of the current market analysis.

This market analysis is only the second undertaken under the 1 July 2014 amendments to the Competition Act, which allows the HCO to have a closer look at a particular market in a much less formal way than the sector-based inquiry (which scrutinizes a whole industry and compels its leading players to provide it with information). The first new-style market analysis was conducted into the cinema and movie-distribution market.

The new form of market analysis is mainly based on publicly-available information, voluntary contributions from market players and the eventual involvement of external consultants. It focuses on assessing the conditions for competition and the potential effects on business partners and consumers. At the end of the process, the HCO publishes a study on its website identifying its concerns and further steps to be taken.

The HCO’s analysis will assess:

  • the structure of the sales-and-repair networks for passenger and light commercial vehicles in the light of recent trends due to the changes in the economic environment and regulatory framework
  • the characteristics of the competition both between brands and within a particular brand
  • the framework for and potential obstacles to effective competition in the after-sales market (e.g. warranty repairs and access to spare parts), and
  • the competitive pressure on other market players posed by independent servicing stations.

The timetable for the analysis, according to the HCO website, is that:

  • by 15 December 2014, it will contact the major market players (sellers and trade associations) and request information
  • during January and February 2015, it will receive and analyse the information provided, and also contact the relevant authorities and public bodies to seek their views
  • during March and April 2015, it will conduct personal consultations with the vehicle-seller companies and trade associations, contact the players active in the after-sales (repair and maintenance) markets and choose which external market analyst company to engage
  • during July and August 2015, it will conduct a second round of personal consultation
  • by December 2015, the field research will be completed and the HCO will publish a report on its findings.

Law: Act LVII of 1996 on the prohibition of unfair market practices and restriction of competition