UOKiK has published the final version of guidelines on commitment decisions, following public consultations which took place in June this year.
Guidelines will apply to cases of anti-competitive practices (except cases involving hardcore restrictions of competition where leniency is only possible) and infringement of consumers’ collective rights.
Although guidelines are not binding, they can be useful for undertakings who may want to try to apply to UOKIK for a commitment decision. Commitment decisions are an attractive solution for undertakings, enabling them to avoid the fines imposed in ordinary proceedings. It also benefits both undertakings and UOKiK by shortening proceedings and reducing procedural costs.
Commitment decisions are becoming increasingly popular: in 2011, one third of all UOKIK’s decisions issued both on anti-competitive practices and infringement of consumers’ collective rights ended with commitments.
A commitment decision can only be issued on request from the undertaking and should be filed in the proceedings as early as possible (preferably already in its first letter to UOKIK). Later requests for a commitment decision may be accepted only exceptionally.
The guidelines set out specific conditions for a commitment proposal. It must:
- contain a clear and detailed description of the commitment proposal;
- address separately each alleged practice;
- propose a commitment suited to the particular alleged practice (eg an undertaking using an abusive clause should propose abandoning or amending the clause);
- demonstrate how the commitment will eliminate the alleged practice or its effects (eg by compensating losses to consumers);
- propose the time frame necessary for implementing the commitment.
Commitment proposals are not binding on UOKiK, which may require some modifications before issuing the final decision.
Once the commitment decision is issued, the undertaking has to report regularly on its implementation within the time limit. Failure to implement the commitment at all or on time may result in a fine or even revocation of the commitment decision and opening of ordinary proceedings.