Several amendments to the Competition Act have been adopted.
The amendments include changes to the inspection rights of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (the “FCCA”). The FCCA now has the right to conduct searches in temporary copies of data made during inspections also in its own premises while previously the inspection had to be completed as a site inspection. In addition, the FCCA now has the express right to inspect data regardless of the medium in which the data is saved.
Time limits for merger control proceedings have been amended as well and are now counted as working days instead of months. The FCCA’s processing time for phase I is 23 working days (instead of one month), and the processing time for phase II is 69 working days (instead of three months).
The amendments also include a change to the competition neutrality provisions. Municipalities, joint municipal authorities, the state or any entities under their control that engage in economic activities in a competitive situation must maintain separate accounts on the activities from 1 January 2020.
Moreover, the amendments enhance the exchange of information between various authorities. Notwithstanding secrecy provisions, the FCCA may deliver information to certain other authorities if the other authorities need the information to fulfil their statutory obligations. The list of authorities, to which the FCCA may deliver information, has been expanded and now includes, inter alia, the Tax Administration and the Financial Intelligence Unit of the National Bureau of Investigation.
The leniency procedure has also been amended, as the scope of the summary applications has been extended. An undertaking may now lodge a summary application not only when it seeks to obtain immunity from fines but also when it seeks a reduction of fines in cartel cases. In addition, a summary application may now be lodged also after the FCCA’s inspection.
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