On 1 September 2013, a new Belgian Competition Act enters into force. We list below the changes most relevant for your business. Please click on the links below to find out more.
- Reform of the Belgian Competition Authority. The new autonomous Belgian Competition Authority will enjoy both investigative and final decision-making powers. Jacques Steenbergen will be presiding over the unified authority.
- Personal liability for cartel conduct. Individuals engaging in price fixing or market allocation will face administrative fines of up to €10,000. Individuals can submit a leniency application in their own right without affecting the leniency position of their employers.
- Tighter deadlines in infringement proceedings. The new Authority is bound by strict deadlines when submitting a draft decision, organising hearings and issuing a final decision. The statutory deadlines are intended to accelerate infringement proceedings significantly.
- Interim measures. Any affected party, the competition prosecutor and the competent ministers can file for interim measures with the president of the Belgian Competition Authority. The deadlines within which the Belgian Competition Authority has to deal with such requests are shortened.
- Settlement procedure. Under the new Act, parties subject to an investigation can seek to settle with the Authority, and thereby close the case, before a draft decision on an infringement has been submitted.
- Price control. If the Price Observatory, a body monitoring evolution of prices across sectors, notices abnormal price evolutions, it can instruct the Belgian Competition Authority to take preliminary measures against the companies concerned in order to restore free competition on the market.
The main prohibitions on restrictive practices and abuse of dominance, as well as the provisions on merger control remain unchanged.