The Romanian Competition Council has recently published recommendations for good practices regarding petitioning. While these guidelines are not binding it is highly advisable that companies observe them as the Romanian Competition Council is prone to carefully analyse their activity for the purpose of preventing and sanctioning market abuse.
Companies have the constitutional right to ask that their private, individual or collective, interests be protected by means of filling petitions, claims or proposals with public authorities. They may realize petition rights individually or collectively. The Competition Council is concerned with companies that exercise petition rights in a concerted manner, through a distinct legal association or without a legal framework, because of the exchange of commercially sensitive information that may occur among petitioning companies.
As a starting point, the Competition Council stresses that the purposes of companies’ petitioning must not be at odds with general interests such as consumer protection.
When filing petitions together, companies should:
- refrain from exchanging commercially sensitive information with each other e.g. information relating to prices (i.e. actual prices, discounts, increases, reductions or rebates); customer lists; production costs; quantities; turnovers; sales; capacities; qualities; marketing plans; risks; investments; technologies; research and development programmes and their results;
- exchange sensitive information only in an aggregated and anonymised form. As such, it should be impossible to reveal such individual information. Moreover, the secrecy of competing companies involved should be maintained;
- avoid decreasing or eliminating competition among themselves; and
- not influence consumers or competition on the same market or on related markets.
When collectively protesting against the undesirable measures or decisions of public authorities, companies should not:
- react disproportionately with the degree of influence exerted by public authorities on companies and the market; or
- restrict competition or affect consumers.
Given the above, it is advisable that companies act cautiously while they transmit commercially sensitive data as there is a fine line between exercising petition rights and being part of a concerted practice.