The Competition Law Observatory (CLO)

Competition Law in Central and Eastern Europe: A Practical Guide, Edited by Aleksander Stawicki, Vassily Rudomino and Boris Babic, (Kluwer Law International, Alphen aan den Rjin, 2014), hardback, xivii + 529 pp., Price: € 175, ISBN 978-90-411-4122-4.

Within the European Union market it is extremely important for companies to understand quickly, even if roughly and at first glance, if their activity or commercial behaviour may fall under the scrutiny of competition law of one or more jurisdictions. This is even more so when dealing with one or more of the Central or Eastern Countries which have joined the EU in recent years. Indeed, as the publisher of the book under review points out, “even though the development of competition law in the countries of the former Eastern bloc has been based to a significant extent on arrangements existing in the European Union – including the case law of European courts and various instruments developed by the European Commission – numerous substantial differences remain both in regulatory regimes and in ongoing practice among the various countries”.

With this in mind, the book outlines the laws and practices of competition law in sixteen of these countries, with additional country chapters on Austria and Turkey and a chapter on the role of the Eurasian Economic Commission. A strong emphasis, as the editors state in the preface, is on issues related to unilateral and multilateral practices restricting competition. In general, chapters in this guide follow a clear division in sections and include discussion of topics such as: applicable laws and regulations and the role of soft law; structure, human resources, and budget of the competition authority; scope of powers of the competition authority; triggering events and thresholds for merger control regimes; substantive tests for merger review; rules on anticompetitive agreements; assessment of dominance; investigations by the competition authorities; inter-agency cooperation (internal and international); sanctions and remedies (administrative and criminal); leniency programs; private enforcement; special sector rules (e.g., energy and telecommunications) and appeal processes.

Worth noting is the editors’ short preface presenting some general remarks based on the information gathered in the individual chapters. For instance, the editors point out that private enforcement claims are not popular in almost all of the countries under review. That, in Slovakia and Romania, EU legislation applies directly to purely domestic cases because the national regulations make EU legislation applicable as national law. Also that competition authorities in Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Russia, Romania and Hungary have more extensive competences (such as State aid, market monitoring and product safety watch).

It must also be said that individual chapters have been authored by leading competition law practitioners from their respective jurisdictions and that consistent chapter structure allows for easy comparison.

In conclusion, the book under review is a useful and manageable guide enabling companies and their legal advisors to rapidly assess the main risks and requirements under the competition law regimes applicable in Central and Eastern Europe.

Reviewed June 2015
By Riccardo Sciaudone
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Competition Law Observatory

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