On 11 November 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the “ICA”) applied a € 4,5 million fine on nine companies (the “Companies”) operating in model agency services along with the Italian association who represents them (“Assem”) for infringements of Article 101 TFEU, the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements.
The ICA found that the Companies shared constantly from 2010 to 2014, commercial data regarding the prices charged to businesses requiring the services, as well as discounts applied to single clients and the status of the negotiation related to specific tenders. The Companies shared such information during the frequent meetings held by Assem in order to coordinate and promote the professional interests of all the affiliated companies.
Through this behaviour the Companies sustained much lower costs than if they would have been actively competing, and imposed costs on their clients (model and businesses).
It is worth mentioning that the ICA decided to apply Article 101 of TFEU and not the equivalent Italian legislative provision because Italy is an important part of the European Union market which thus can be affected by the abovementioned conduct.
The ICA has increased its focus on the fashion sector following investigations started by other National Competition Authorities like the Competition and Markets Authorities in the United Kingdom.