These instructions are primarily meant for companies who appeal to the Competition Act to obtain protection against the prohibited competition restrictions applied by their trading partners. The instructions have been prepared for speeding up the processing of complaints made by business undertakings and for describing the information needs connected to the investigation of major competition restraints cases. There are no formal requirements for a complaint, however.
Particularly in cartel issues, the FCCA is also interested in confidential and informal tip-offs even in cases where the party tipping off cannot provide all the information mentioned below. On the basis of the tip-offs, the agency may commence its own investigations where necessary.
Complaints are an important source for the FCCA for locating prohibited competition restraints and for safeguarding workable competition. The agency's resources are limited, however. The FCA therefore prioritizes complaints and focuses on the investigation of competition restraints which have major negative impacts in the economy.
The immediate task of the agency is not the protection of an individual business undertaking, particularly if the undertaking which has become the target of a restraint can protect its interest in other ways, for example in a common court. Indirectly, the enforcement of the Competition Act often improves the position of an individual undertaking in the market, however.
The FCCA sees to it that the case will be investigated but at the same time the complainant shall provide information on the grounds of his demands and otherwise contribute to the investigation of the case filed by him (Administrative Procedure Act 434/2003, Section 31).
The competition restraints defined in Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) are prohibited as well as the agreements or practices referred to in Sections 5 and 6 of the Competition Act which have as their object the significant prevention, restriction or distortion of competition or which result in the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition. Section 7 of the Act prohibits the abuse of dominant position. Sections 5-7 of the Competition Act correspond to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.
Competition restraints with only a minor impact on economic competition and which meet the criteria of the so-called de minimis notice are not prohibited.
The FCA may even decide not to take action concerning the prohibited restraints if, regardless of the competition restriction, competition in the said market can be deemed to be effective as a whole Section 32 of the Competition Act).
In particular, the FCCA intervenes with competition restraints which have a major impact on the economy and the functioning of the market mechanism. The investigation of such complaints usually requires extensive investigations. The complaint should therefore contain as detailed initial information as possible on the competition restraint and its method of implementation, the parties, the market and the impacts of the competition restraint in the market.
In practice, a complaint should contain at least the following information:
1. Information on the parties
- 1.1. The complete contact information of the complainant and information on the nature and extent of the business conducted by the complainant and possible group relations.
- 1.2. The complete contact information of the object(s) of the complaint including information on the nature and extent of the business, and possible group relations and the relationship between the complainant and the object.
2. The alleged competition restraint and grounds thereof
- 2.1. An accurate and well-founded description of the alleged competition restraint(s) under Article 101 or 102 TFEU or Sections 5-7 of the Competition Act.
- 2.2 An estimate on the duration of the competition restraint and on how and when the competition restraint has begun, the form it continues in and when and how the restraint has come to an end.
- 2.3. Copies of documents in your possession or available to you concerning the facts, or directly relating thereto, of the alleged competition restraint, such as agreements, minutes of conferences and meetings, correspondence, notes and the contact information of possible witnesses.
3. Market information
- 3.1. Where necessary, a description of the complainant's position on the market, i.e. a list and description of the customers buying/selling the product or service, the suppliers thereof and the rivals active on the same level of the distribution chain.
- 3.2 The complainant's view of the de facto competing products or services targeted by the competition restraint (relevant product market) and grounds for the delimitation thereof.
- 3.3. The complainant's view of the de facto competing geographical regions targeted by the competition restraint (relevant geographical market) and grounds for the delimitation thereof.
- 3.4. An estimate on the size of the relevant market, the market shares of the various actors on the market, special entry barriers and special features of market conduct.
4. The effects of the alleged competition restraint
- 4.1. An account of the primary targets of the impacts of the alleged competition restraint, such as customers, rivals or suppliers, and the major effects of the alleged competition restraint for the different parties.
- 4.2. An account of the possible grounds of the target for its conduct, your own estimate on the possible efficiency-enhancing effects of the alleged competition restraint or the possibilities of customers to circumvent or to avoid the restrictive measures.
- 4.3. An estimate of the total financial damage caused by the alleged competition restraint and estimate of damage for the complainant.
5. Other significant considerations
- 5.1. The impact of special legislation, standards or public aid, for example, in the relevant market.
- 5.2. Possible additional information on the topic available from public sources (here for example official decisions, sectoral studies, statistics and technical descriptions may be attached).
- 5.3. An account of whether the case will or has been reviewed by some other authority or court.
As a rule, complaints are public under the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), excluding the informal cartel tips mentioned above, for example. Upon request, the authorities shall provide information on the complaint and the related documents to anybody. On the other hand, the Act prescribes of the grounds for secrecy under which business secrets and some other information defined in the Act shall not be disclosed. Therefore it is necessary to clearly pinpoint the possible business secrets and other secret information contained in the complaint.
As a rule, the identity of the complainant is also public information. It may be withheld only if special reasons exist, for example a very important common or private interest. For example the preparation of inspections relating to cartel investigations is such a special reason on the basis of which information on the complaint/complainant may be withheld, at least for the early stages of the investigations.
In general, the finding of a prohibited competition restraint requires evidence of the conduct of the suspected business undertakings, due to which making the complaint public by the complainant himself may appreciably harm the investigation of the competition restraint.
Complaints should be sent to the FCCA's registry using the following address: P.O.B. 5, FIN-00531 Helsinki, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. A complaint concerning a regional competition restraint may also be brought before a Regional State Administrative Agency following the above-mentioned principles.
last modified 12/28/2012