Friday, 08 July 2022

Press Release – Settlement Procedure (SP) in the case of the HCC's ex officio investigation into the Import, Wholesale and Retail markets for power-driven hand tools and garden tools

Subject: Statement of Objections by Rapporteur P. Fotis on the ex officio investigation into the import, wholesale and retail markets for power-driven hand tools and garden tools, in order to determine whether the conditions for application of the provisions of articles 1 of L. 3959/2011 and/or 101 TFEU are met in the context of vertical agreements, following the Settlements Submissions by companies that are active in the import and trading markets for power-driven hand tools and garden tools  

The Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) will convene in plenary to decide, pursuant to par. 35 of its Decision no 704/2020, on the acceptance of the relevant Settlement Submissions by companies that are active in the import and trading markets for power-driven hand tools and garden tools The above meeting of the HCC will take place following by the replies of the parties to the case that the statement of objections corresponds to the contents of their settlement submissions and that they therefore remain committed to follow the settlement procedure, pursuant to par. 37 of HCC Decision no 704/2020.

For the purposes of the investigation, the General Directorate for Competition (HCC) carried out, within the framework of its powers, on-site inspections at the headquarters of the above undertakings, inter alia, and it was deemed appropriate to send questionnaires to these undertakings.

The relevant market for products or services includes all products or services that are regarded by consumers as being interchangeable or substitutable with each other, by reason of their characteristics, price and intended use. In the present case, the undertakings concerned are active in the import and trading markets for a) power-driven hand tools and b) garden tools.

The relevant geographic market includes the area in which the undertakings concerned sell the relevant products under sufficiently homogeneous conditions of competition. In this case, the relevant geographical area can be defined, in principle, as the whole of the Greek territory, as the undertakings concerned are active or may be active throughout the territory.

The parties involved in the case declare in writing that they envisage engaging in settlement discussions in view of possibly introducing settlement submissions at a later stage, in accordance with the provisions of par. 16 of HCC Decision no. 704/2020. Following these submissions, the HCC unanimously decided, in its meeting of 21.03.2022, that this case is relevant and may fall within the Settlement Procedure, as it meets the criteria provided for (HCC Decision no. 704/2020, par. 6, 9 and 31). To this end, in the context of exercising its discretionary power to subject cases to the Settlement Procedure, the HCC took into account, in particular, the sincere intention of the interested parties to settle, the number of the settlement applicants[1], the nature of the infringement in question as a vertical agreement and the expected extent of procedural efficiency, which was estimated to be significantly large in this case. The Rapporteur then invited the interested parties to bilateral meetings and, when a sufficient degree of common understanding was reached regarding the facts, their legal classification, the gravity and duration of the infringements, the standard of proof of the claims based on the evidence and the calculation of the amount of any fine to be imposed, the parties concerned responded to the Rapporteur's invitation for "Settlement Submissions", which were subsequently submitted by them, pursuant to par. 27 of HCC Decision no. 704/2020.

In the present case, according to the SO, the undertakings involved engaged in resale price maintenance ('RPM') practices, which the affiliated retailers largely complied with. In particular regarding one undertaking, it was further established that a contractual term concerning the indirect prohibition of parallel imports was imposed in contracts concluded with the network of authorised resellers. Therefore, the examined practices and contractual terms fall within the concept of "agreement" and in particular the concept of a vertical agreement between undertakings operating at a different level of the distribution chain and fall within the scope of articles 1 par. 1 of Law 3959/ 2011 and 101 par. 1 TFEU. The above practices may have an appreciable effect on intra-Community trade, within the meaning of EU competition rules and, therefore, Article 101 TFEU applies in parallel in the present case. At the same time, the conditions are met (in particular, identical activity, products, participating parties, geographical area and applied methods) for the characterisation of the examined practices as a single and continuous violation, while no individual exemption is granted in the light of articles 1 par. 3 of Law 3959/ 2011 and 101 par. 3 of the TFEU, according to the grounds of the SO.

The SO of the Rapporteur P. Fotis, by virtue of par. 35 of HCC Plenary Decision no. 704/2020, proposes the acceptance of the above Settlement Submissions by companies that are active in the import and trading markets for power-driven hand tools and garden tools and the issuance of a decision by which HCC: 

Finds that the parties concerned infringed Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 of the TFEU through their participation in prohibited vertical agreements by virtue of the practices that outlined in the Statement of Objections, in the context of the Settlement Procedure.

Orders the parties concerned in the above infringement to cease, if they have not already done so, and refrain in the future from the violations of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU found in the Statement of Objections.

Imposes fines for the infringements of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU found in the Statement of Objections.

It is noted that the SO concerns the first HCC's case placed under the Settlement Procedure, where the alleged infringements fall within the scope of articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and/or 101 TFEU in the context of vertical agreements, following the publication of Law 4886/2022 (Government Gazette A' 12/24.12.2022). In any case, it is pointed out that the SO shall not bind the Competition Commission, which will decide taking into account all the evidence in the case file, according to HCC Decision no. 704/2020.

[1] All the parties in this case are placed under the Settlement Procedure.

Μοιραστείτε το / Share it


Kotsika 1A & Patision
10434, Athens, Greece
210 8809100

Social Media


Copyright © 2024 Hellenic Competition Commission. All Rights Reserved.


Θέλετε να ενημερώνεστε; Want to be updated?

Aκολουθήστε μας στα κοινωνικά δίκτυα!
Follow us on Social Media!