Before the new Competition Act entered into force in October 2010, the Croatian Competition Agency could not directly impose fines for hardcore violations of Croatian competition law or conduct dawn raids, and no leniency programme was in place. Competition enforcement thus lacked any real deterrent effect and was generally considered ineffective, even though the Competition Agency proved to be sophisticated in its handling of anti-competitive behaviour. However, this situation is soon expected to change, following the entry into force of two new bylaws at the end of November 2010: the Regulation on the Criteria for Setting Fines and the Regulation on Immunity from Fines and Reduction of Fines. Both bylaws follow the EU rules and introduce similar policy instruments to those of the European Commission.
Under the Regulation on the Criteria for Setting Fines, a two-step methodology for setting fines (ie, the basic amount and any adjustments) has been introduced, whereby the final amount of the fine is also dependent on all mitigating and aggravating circumstances. In any case, the maximum fine may not exceed 10% of the total turnover of the undertaking.
A leniency programme similar to that which applies at EU level is now provided for under the Regulation on Immunity from Fines and Reduction of Fines. Only cartel cases may be subject to a leniency application and only the first member of a cartel to come forward with evidence of the cartel's existence may be granted full immunity. The bylaw also contains detailed requirements to qualify for immunity or for a reduction in fines, as well as rules on the procedure to be observed in such cases.
An English translation of both bylaws is available on the agency's official website at www.aztn.hr.
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]).