> Who can refer cases to the Conseil?
The Conseil de la concurrence can start proceedings ex officio or have cases brought by:
• the Minister of Economy
• companies, local and regional administrations
• professional associations
• trade union organizations
• consumer associations
> What does the Conseil penalize?
The term agreement implies that there is a collusion of wills between at least two natural or legal persons, either public or private. The legal form of the agreement is indifferent. For example, the following practices have all been qualified as anticompetitive agreements:
• Exchanges of information on prices and margins
• Exclusive or selective distribution contracts
• General conditions of sale
• Bid rigging during private or public calls for tender
• Market sharing
• Impediments to market access
The practices defined in Article L. 420-2 concern the abusive exploitation of a position of strength : abuse of a dominant position and abuse of economic dependence. A company is deemed to be in a dominant position when it is able to avoid competition. Abuse of economic dependence occurs when one economic actor is in a position of strength in relation to another, without necessarily holding a dominant position on a pertinent market.
The provisions introduced by the law of 1st July 1996 are intended to combat predatory price practices, without the need to prove that an agreement or a dominant position actually exists (L. 420-5).
The Conseil has the power to grant exemptions (L. 420-4). Indeed, if certain practices arise as a consequence of the implementation of laws or regulations, they are exempted from the application of Articles L. 420-1 and L. 420-2.
Likewise, practices, which the Conseil believes to be essential to economic progress, are also exempted.