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LEGAL NEWS - Largest fine ever imposed in a competition case

5. December 2014

A construction company agreed to pay a fine in the amount of 10 million DKK or approximately 1.34 million Euros as a settlement for bid rigging. This is the largest fine ever imposed in a competition case by the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority.

As recently as in early November 2014, the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority, Konkurrence- og Forbrugerstyrelsen, has issued the highest fine ever for a single company within the Danish construction sector for breaching the Danish Competition Act. The fine amounts to 10 million DKK or approximately 1.34 million Euros. The infringement concerned several cases of bid rigging that took place from 2007 until 2009 in which the building company exchanged information on prices and other terms or entered into agreements with its competitors on the allocation of costs.

Police investigation led to further 28 companies that were involved in the cartel case. Those cases were settled, leading to a total sum of fines issued to the cartel members of around 27 million DKK or 3.63 million Euros. The amount is still increasing, as more members agree to a settlement and pay a fine.
The case illustrates the eagerness of the Danish competition authority to enforce the strict rules stated in the Danish Competition Act in order to preserve competition.

The Danish Competition Act contains two main prohibitions, one against anti-competitive agreements and one against arrangements and conduct which constitute an abuse of a dominant position. Another provision is a merger control clause with a graded minimum threshold for its enforcement. The Danish Competition Act is based on the equivalent regulations of European competition law.

Clauses and provisions in agreements that are an infringement of the Danish Competition Act are void by law. The companies involved may be subject to a fine, and a company may, in extremely rare cases, also be found liable to pay damages to third parties.

MAQS Law Firm recommends to carefully check building and construction contracts to avoid any problems with the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority. If you are in doubt when entering into such an agreement, do not hesitate to
contact specialist lawyer Dr. Claas Thöle or assistant attorney Sabine Glatz