On October 13 2011 the Croatian Competition Agency established that Euro rent sport, an authorised importer and distributor of Mitsubishi Motors cars, had restricted competition in Croatia by entering into prohibited agreements on the markets for the sale of new motor vehicles, repair and maintenance services and the sale of spare parts for such vehicles. The proceedings were initiated by the agency upon receipt of complaints from Auto tesker, Auto kuća Horvat and Morić.
At the end of 2009 Euro rent sport established a mixed qualitative-quantitative selective distribution system as a form of distribution and servicing of Mitsubishi Motors cars. Under Croatian competition law, an undertaking that applies such a distribution system must appoint an exact number of authorised distributors and repairers selected on the basis of specified, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria.
However, in the agency's view, Euro rent sport neither made available nor published these criteria. Moreover, Euro rent sport did not provide written information on the conditions for inclusion in the distribution system to the existing authorised distributors and repairers – Auto tesker, Auto kuća Horvat and Morić. In addition, on several occasions Euro rent sport selected some new undertakings which were not part of the existing authorised distributors and repairers network.
In this manner, Euro rent sport acted contrary to existing practice, according to which a new supplier gives priority to existing distributors and repairers provided that they fulfil set qualitative criteria. Therefore, the agency concluded that Euro rent sport had restricted access to the market for the distribution and servicing of motor vehicles.
In addition, the agency established anti-competitive practices in relation to the distribution agreement concluded between Euro rent sport and Auto Novaković on September 28 2010. The agreement was concluded for a period of one year, which is not in line with the Croatian motor vehicle block exemption regulation. According to the regulation, a block exemption shall apply provided that the vertical agreement concluded between the supplier of new motor vehicles and a distributor or authorised repairer provides that the agreement is concluded for a period of at least five years. In this case, each party to the agreement must undertake to give the other party at least six months' prior notice of its intention not to renew the agreement.
In light of this, the agency ordered Euro rent sport to:
- publish the selected qualitative-quantitative criteria on its website;
- appoint an undertaking which fulfils the set qualitative criteria for respective distribution segment, irrespective of quantitative restriction; and
- amend the disputed provisions in the agreement concluded with Auto Novaković in line with the competition rules.
For further information on this topic please contact Gabriele Wahl Cesarec at Petres & Cvirn by telephone (+385 1 4813 244), fax (+385 1 4813 073) or email ([email protected]).