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Anti-Competitive Ethical Rules of the Danish Veterinary Association

29. maj 2013

On May 29, 2013, the Danish Competition Council ordered the Danish Veterinary Association (DVA) to revoke some anti-competitive ethical rules.

These rules i.a. prevented the veterinary surgeons from trying to attract customers, who had been referred to the clinic for special treatment of their animals, and they restricted the customers’ own free choice of veterinary surgeon.

Investigations during the case showed that customers, who had once been referred to a clinic by another veterinary surgeon, would not be accepted as ordinary customers of that clinic. According to some of the clinics, the restriction was based on competitive considerations and collegial loyalty.

Other rules prevented the members of the association from establishing a clinic within a range of 15 km from a deceased colleague before the deceased colleague’s practice had been sold (with a maximum of 6 months).

More than 90 per cent of all veterinarians in Denmark are members of the DVA, and the DVA had argued that the rules in question were justified, as they aimed at ensuring the best possible treatment of animals and at protecting veterinarians in geographic outskirt areas.

However, the ethical rules of the DVA as well as public regulation contain other rules to pursue these aims, and the Competition Council found that the claim that restrictive rules should be justified because they aim at ensuring fair conditions of competition on the market is by nature unfounded and must be discarded.

Based on the content of the collegiate rules and the objective aims pursued by them as well as the context in which they were applied and the actual conduct and behavior of the parties on the market, the Competition Council found the rules to have as their object or effect to restrict competition on the Danish veterinarian market.

The Competition Council stated that the rules constituted a violation of the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements in Section 6 of the Danish Competition Act and ordered the DVA to revoke the rules and to abstain from readopting or enforcing rules with the same or similar purpose or effect as the rules in question.

For further information please contact Mia Anne Gantzhorn (+45 4171 5213, mag@kfst.dk) or Karen Berg (+45 4171 5142, kb@kfst.dk).