Slovakia has amended its Anti-Competition Law to  simplify certain statutory procedures, introduce a more  attractive leniency program and provide for greater legal  certainty and transparency in proceedings at the Slovak  Antimonopoly Office (the “Slovak AMO”).

The changes to Act No. 136/2001 Coll. on the Protection  of Competition (the “Act”) and on amendments and  supplements to the Act of the Slovak National Council  No. 347/1990 Coll. on the Organization of Ministries  and other Central Bodies of State Administration of the  Slovak Republic as amended (the “Amendment”) came  into effect as of 1 July 2014. The Amendment stipulates  that the Slovak AMO may reward a cartel participant  by not imposing a fine or by reducing it up to 50 percent  when that participant proactively provides relevant  evidence of a cartel to the Slovak AMO. 

This change aims to increase the effectiveness of the  application of the Anti-Competition Law in the private  sector within EU member states. A new rule is included in the Act, under which a successful applicant for non-imposition of a fine (i.e. for absolute immunity) shall receive immunity against any private claims of potentially  damaged parties. This new rule, taken together with the already existing criminal immunity, offers cartel  participants protection against administrative, criminal  as well as private consequences of a breach of the  Anti-Competition Law, if these participants provide the  Slovak AMO with relevant cartel evidence on their own initiative.

Within the supervision of concentration under the  provisions of the Act, the Amendment introduces  several pro-business changes. The thresholds relevant  for determining whether there is a concentration will  no longer be calculated on the basis of the last closed  accounting period, but on the basis of the last accounting  period, even if such period was not closed yet.

Further, for those wishing to notify the AMO of such a  concentration, the new decree has made the task simpler,  introducing a simplified questionnaire that the relevant  person may submit. The questionnaire is to be used:

  1. in the case of the acquisition of exclusive control over  the entrepreneur, over which the relevant person already  exercises joint control
  2. where no horizontal or vertical overlay between  activities of the concerned parties occurs in Slovakia and 
  3. where the concerned parties’ joint market share in  the relevant market is smaller than 15 percent in the case  of horizontal concentrations, or when the market share of  any party or the joint market share of the parties on the  relevant market is less than 30 percent.

In addition, the Amendment also introduces so-called  “settlement” as a form of alternative dispute resolution.  Settlement shall replace the former valid non-binding  guideline and shall apply in cases where the factual  status of the relevant case sufficiently justifies the  assumptions that the provisions of the Act were violated.  Consequently, the Slovak AMO will be entitled to  negotiate for the purpose of reaching a settlement, either  ex officio or on the basis of the entrepreneur’s proposal.  When an entrepreneur admits that it breached the  provisions of the Act, this may even result in a reduction  of an imposed fine. 

The Amendment also changed various other aspects  of the competition protection. For instance, it contains  new provisions relating to such aspects of dawn raids as  a more transparent procedure and stricter protection of  information. 

Altogether, the Amendment aims to address the practical  issues that have arisen during the past years due to the  problematic application of certain provisions of the  Act and to ameliorate these concerns in ways that are  specifically pro-business.