In the middle of this summer, a significant overhaul of the Hungarian competition regime took place: although the amendments did not affect substantive antitrust laws, they did entail a major change to the ways and means the Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, “GVH”) operates as of 1 July 2014. Although a lot of commentary has already been produced highlighting the main features of these changes (see e.g. Oppenheim’s Hungarian language blogpost at http://www.oppenheimlegal.com/blog_hu.15.valtozik_a_versenytorveny_-_1_resz.html), the 7 numbers below perhaps provide a fresh perspective on the legal texts.
9669 / 49.8 – the number of new words in the amended text of the Hungarian Competition Act and the percentage of the increase as compared to the earlier text.
30 - the number of days, within which a merger notification was to be made to the GVH after the relevant agreement was signed (before 1 July 2014). Such requirement is now abolished, however, a strict suspension obligation is now introduced, which make it possible for the GVH to impose as serious fines for “gun-jumping" (the breach of such suspension obligation) as the European Commission did in the Electrabel and Marine Harvest cases.
15 - the number of calendar days by which the GVH’s deadline to bring a Phase I merger decision has become shorter (from 45 calendar days to 30 calendar days in total).
10 – the percentage of the fine, which may be reduced in the framework in the newly introduced settlement discussions modelled on the European Commission’s similar proceedings. There are, however, important differences from the European model: (i) settlement discussions are possible not only in cartel cases but also in cases concerning the abuse of a dominant position and (ii) parties must waive their right to judicial review of the final settlement decision.
6 – the number of transactions, which has been exempted to date from the notification obligation by a Government Decree. The new public interest exception allows the Hungarian Government to exempt a notifyable merger from the competence of the GVH if such merger has been declared – by way of a Government Decree – as having a significance from a national strategic perspective. The majority of the transactions entailed direct or indirect acquisitions by the Hungarian State (concerning, e.g. the energy sector (FOGÁZ), the banking sector (MKB) or the media sector (Antenna Hungária)).
3 - the number of languages, in which the GVH now accepts original documents in its various proceedings without Hungarian translation. These are English, French and German.