On 1 July 2016, the new law increasing the maximum fines that the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM") can impose for an infringement of competition law will enter into force. The legislative proposal was adopted by the Dutch parliament at the end of 2015. The main purpose of the new law is to increase the deterrent effect of fines [see our August 2014 newsletter].
Under the previous fining rules, the ACM can impose fines of up to EUR 450,000 or 10% of the company's annual turnover, depending on which amount is higher. According to the new rules the maximum fine will increase to EUR 900,000 or, if higher, 10% of a company's turnover, multiplied by the number of years in which the cartel was in place subject to a maximum of four years. This means that the new maximum fine for cartel infringements in the Netherlands is now 40% of a company's worldwide annual turnover.
As a result, the ACM's fining guidelines will also be adjusted from 1 July 2016. In addition to a new maximum fine of EUR 900,000, these guidelines set out a new methodology for the fining of natural persons. The guidelines now distinguish between different ranges of the basic fine for individuals, which are in particular linked to the annual turnover of the company.
The previous fine maximums remain applicable to infringements of competition law that started before 1 July 2016, even if they come to an end after this date. This means that the new maximum fines will only apply to infringements starting on or after 1 July 2016.