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Introduction of imprisonment in cartel cases in the Danish Competition Act

05. marts 2013

On 1st March 2013, a new Danish Competition Act (Consolidated Act No. 23 of 17 January 2013) came into force. It amended the legal framework for sanctions as follows:

  • Imprisonment for up to 18 months for participating in a cartel, provided the infringement was committed intentionally and was of a grave nature, particularly as a result of the scope of the infringement or its likely damaging effects. Under particularly aggravating circumstances, a sanction of up to six years imprisonment may be imposed. Such circumstances could for instance be that the cartel had a substantial scope or substantial harmful effects.
  • A considerable increase in the level of fines imposed on natural persons and undertakings by increasing the basic amounts for the gravity of an infringement.

    In relation to undertakings, the basic amount for a minor infringement can be up to DKK 4 000 000 (€ 536 500); the basic amount for a serious infringement is set between DKK 4 000 000 and DKK 20 000 000 (€ 2 700 000) and the basic amount for a very serious infringement is from DKK 20 000 000 and upwards.

    For natural persons, the basic amounts will be at least DKK 50 000 (€ 6 700), DKK 100 000 (€ 13 400) or DKK 200 000 (€ 26 800) depending on the nature of the infringement (minor, serious or very serious).
  • The leniency rules will also apply to imprisonment, however, only for the first applicant who can obtain withdrawal of the charge. For subsequent applicants it is for the courts to decide on a possible reduction of sentences in accordance with the general rules of the Danish Penal Code.

    Furthermore, Act 23 introduced a number of key procedural changes as follows:

  • Interim measures. The Competition Council’s decision shall be brought before the Competition Appeals Tribunal within ten working days and needs to be upheld by the Tribunal before it becomes effective.
  • Introduction of a preliminary statement of objections at a very early stage in the proceedings and with a time limit of two weeks for the parties to reply. After the conclusion of the investigations, a statement of objections will be sent to the parties with a time limit of six weeks to reply. A third consultation of the parties may take place if the draft decision contains new information resulting in an assessment different from the one presented in the statement of objections.

See the full text of Act No 23 of 17 January 2013 here