On 26 August 2014, the Board of the Belgian Competition Authority adopted new guidelines on the calculation of fines. These guidelines replace the Communication of the Belgian Competition Council on the calculation of fines of 19 December 2011.
The Belgian Competition Authority decided to align the Belgian guidelines with the guidelines of the European Commission on the method of setting fines. This implies that regardless of whether the investigation is led by the Belgian Competition Authority or by the European Commission, the companies active in Belgium will be sanctioned according to the same calculation method. There are limited specific adaptations, for example to refer to the Belgian turnover concerned as a starting point for the fine calculation.
As a result of the application of the new guidelines, infringements could be sanctioned much more severely. This applies in particular to infringements of a longer duration since under these new guidelines the basic amount of the fine will be multiplied by the number of years of infringement (until now this was a maximum of 30%). The Belgian Competition Authority stressed in the press release that it considers that fines are an important deterrence tool.
The guidelines will not be applied in cases where natural persons infringed the competition rules.
The new guidelines on the calculation of fines will be applied to cases where a draft decision is presented to the Competition Authority after 1 November 2014.