30th January 2022
Maximum fine of €10 million or 10% of total worldwide turnover, whichever is the greater, for breaches of competition law
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD earlier this week received Government approval to publish the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 to give more powers to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to challenge anti-competitive practices by business and protect consumers.
For the first time in Irish law, breaches of competition law can be enforced through administrative actions taken by competition authorities, with maximum fines of up to €10 million or 10% of total worldwide turnover, whichever is the greater.
The Tánaiste said:
"The vast majority of businesses do not engage in anti-competitive practices, but some do at the expense of consumers and other businesses particular newer and smaller ones. This ground-breaking new law will give our competition authorities the power to crack down on those rogue operators that do. Cartels, where they exist, will be broken up and companies abusing a dominant position can be suitably punished with heavy fines of up to 10% of global turnover. It’s really good news for customers. These new powers will act as a big disincentive for those taking part in anti-competitive practices, which drive up costs, freeze out start-ups and smaller businesses and lead to bad quality products and poor services. The Bill also enables greater cooperation between competition authorities across the EU, allowing us to challenge these practices on a cross-border basis.”
Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy TD said:
“This Bill represents a significant step-change in competition enforcement to effectively tackle white collar crime in Ireland and will be instrumental in supporting the ongoing work to protect and promote a competitive and fair marketplace that works for consumers and business alike. Once enacted, our agencies will have the power to enforce Competition Law much more effectively, giving them more teeth to protect consumers and crack down on anti-competitive practices - to break up cartels where they exist and deter and punish companies abusing their dominant position in the market.
“This legislation is one of my top priorities for business regulation and will ensure our competition authorities have a full toolbox to protect the interests of consumers and businesses."
The Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 fulfils a Programme for Government commitment and two actions in the Government’s Action Plan on Insurance Reform. It also fulfils one of the recommendations of the Report of the Hamilton Review (Review of Structures and Strategies to Prevent, Investigate and Penalise Economic Crime and Corruption) published by Minister McEntee.
Notes to Editors
The Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 arose from the European ECN+ Directive. The central aim of the ECN+ Directive is to ensure that National Competition Authorities (NCAs) have guarantees of independence, sufficient resources, and appropriate powers of enforcement, including the ability to issue fines, for breaches of Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Under the TFEU, Article 101 prohibit undertakings from engaging in anti-competitive agreements and practices, and Article 102 seeks to prevent the abuse of dominance. The National Competition Authorities (NCAs) in Ireland for the purposes of EU competition law, and which are subject to the ECN+ Directive, are the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Irish Courts.
The Directive will improve the decentralised system of enforcement of EU competition rules put in place by Regulation (EC) No. 1/2003 and boost the effective enforcement of EU competition rules. It is intended to empower the competition authorities of Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure proper functioning of the EU’s internal market. In effect, the Directive covers the parallel application of European competition law and national competition law to the same case, as well as (in Articles 31(3) and (4)) the application of national competition law on a stand-alone basis.
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