The new Antitrust Law amends the rules on economic concentration and provides new tools for protection from unfair competition.
Rules on economic concentration
The new antitrust law doubles the financial thresholds applicable for obtaining consent from the competition authority required for acquisition of stock (shares) in statutory funds of commercial legal entities. From now on, consent is required if the book value of the company’s assets exceeds 200 000 basic values (approx. 2 033 000 EUR) or if the company’s total revenue (without VAT) exceeds 400 000 basic values (approx. 4 067 000 EUR) as of the end of the previous financial year.
At the same time, the new law extends the list of actions which are considered to be an economic concentration and require consent from the competition authority, provided that at least one of the above financial criteria is met. In particular, consent is necessary for concluding partnership agreements between competitors for acquiring ownership/use/possession of core assets or intangibles (if their value exceeds 20% of the book value of the company’s assets) as well as for establishing holdings, associations and unions.
The new law specifies the actions which fall under the notion of unfair competition. Unfair competition includes incorrect comparison with a competitor, copying or imitating corporate identity, illegal use, disclosure of information constituting commercial, official and other secrets protected by law, introducing goods on the market in violation of IP rights, and other actions.
The amendments are expected to allow market participants to protect their rights more effectively and to contribute to establishing uniform regulatory practice.
The new law also establishes the possibility of applying preventive measures by competition authorities. For instance, the competition authority is now entitled to send warnings about the inadmissibility of actions that may lead to a violation of competition laws in the future.
Furthermore, the new rules enable the competition authority to issue notifications before establishing the facts of antitrust violation. Fulfilment of all conditions in the notification will terminate the proceedings on antitrust violation and thus exclude liability of the market participant.
National legal internet portal of the Republic of Belarus (NLIP) 02.02.2018, 2/2536