Veterinary hospitals fined by the City Court in Aarhus for price fixing
24. februar 2010
On February 24, 2010, the Danish City Court in Aarhus passed sentence upon 7 veterinary hospitals for infringing the section 6 of the Danish Competition Act by price fixing. Accordingly the City Court fined the 7 veterinary hospitals DKK 75.000 (€ 10.000) each.
The 7 veterinary hospitals have entered into an agreement on cooperation on working in shifts when treating animals in emergency situations during nights and on weekends. The agreement lies down that the veterinary hospital on duty can only charge a certain maximum number of points for visits during nights and on weekends.
Danish veterinary hospitals have traditionally calculated their fees on basis of a point system which in itself is not an infringement of the Danish Competition Law.
Though, in the specific case the veterinary hospitals discussed the value of these points used for setting the price for consultations during nights and on weekends. According to the court this statues an agreement, having restriction of competition as its object.
The veterinary hospitals entered into the agreement in 1998. Prices have been fixed since then.
In fixing the fine the court took into account the length of the infringement and the fact that the 7 veterinary hospitals had a large market share in the specific region.
The court concluded that the fact that the cooperation between the veterinary hospitals origins from a statutory duty for veterinary hospitals to be available in emergency situations during nights and on weekends, and the fact that the turnover from this duty constitutes a very modest part of the undertakings total turnover supported mitigating the fine.