Portugal: The New Competition Law

Last Updated: 13 February 2004


Law 18/2003 of 11 June sets out the new competition legal framework by revoking Decree-Law 371/93 of 29 October, as amended from time to time.

Portuguese Government has initiated a reform of the competition framework with a view to improving the competitive landscape for both Portuguese and foreign investors wanting to develop a business in Portugal. As a first step, the Portuguese Competition Authority (Autoridade da Concorrência – the "Competition Authority") was created through Decree-Law 10/2003 of 18 January 2003. Unlike its predecessor, which was a government body, the Competition Authority is an independent authority with the power to monitor competition in all sectors of the economy.

Law 18/2003 of 11 June establishes the new competition legal framework (the "Competition Law"), by revoking Decree-Law 371/93 of 29 October 1993, as amended from time to time.

1. Restrictive practices

The Competition Law introduces no substantial changes to the legal framework of restrictive practices.

The prohibition of restrictive practices is limited to those practices that may have as their objective or effect a "significant restriction or distortion" of competition in the whole or in part of the national market. Companies may, however, be exempted from the prohibition of such restrictive practices in case they improve the production or distribution of goods or promote economic or technological progress.

2. Abuse of dominant position

The old competition law established several assumptions for the purposes of assessing if a company held a dominant position in the market. A company would be deemed to have a dominant position if it held a share equal to or exceeding 30% of the market of a product or service. These thresholds would be increased to 50% market share for two or three companies and to 65% market share in case of four or five companies.

Under the Competition Law, these assumptions were eliminated. A company shall now be deemed to have a dominant position in the relevant market if it dominates the market and has no relevant competitors. In addition, a company or companies’ conduct shall be construed as abusive if (i) it distorts or restricts competition or (ii) it refuses to grant other companies, for reasonable consideration, access to a network or any other infrastructure, which it controls.

3. Abuse of economic dependence

The concept of abuse of economic dependence has no equivalent in most European Union Member States. However, the Competition Law has kept this concept since, in some cases, the survival and the market role of companies depend on the products or services demands made by other companies, as there is no equivalent alternative.

The abuse of economic dependence is prohibited to the extent it may affect the functioning of the market or the competition structure. The adoption of restrictive practices or termination of established business relationships without cause, taking into account the nature of such relationships and the recognised business practices applicable to any such business, may be considered as abuse of economic dependence.

4. Merger control

The Competition Law has introduced substantial changes to the rules on merger control. The main concern was to adapt the Portuguese competition framework to the European competition rules in respect of both substantial and procedural aspects.

The criterion for the authorisation or rejection of mergers remains identical to the one established in the old competition law, that is the likelihood of such operations to create or reinforce a dominant position which may significantly affect competition.

The Competition Authority shall be responsible for the definition of the criteria for the existence of a dominant position of a company or companies in the relevant market based on the precedents set by the European Court.

The merger control procedure that will be used by the Competition Authority is very similar to the review procedure set out in the European Regulations. Notification to the Competition Authority is required on the following situations: (i) the merger transaction leads to the establishment or the reinforcement of a market share exceeding 30% of the Portuguese market of any goods or services provided by the companies or of any substantial portion of any such market; (ii) the aggregate net turnover obtained in Portugal by the companies involved in the merger exceeds EUR 150 million in the previous financial year.

A merger transaction that is subject to prior notification cannot be completed before obtaining clearance from the Competition Authority. However, the companies involved in a merger operation may request a waiver to this obligation. Such waiver shall take into account the adverse consequences to the companies involved and/or to competition that might result from not completing the merger before obtaining approval.

The Competition Authority shall authorise the transaction unconditionally if (i) the transaction does not grant the buyer a dominant position in the relevant market or (ii) such dominant position will not significantly affect competition. Otherwise, it may authorise the transaction, subject to the fulfilment of certain commitments by the parties ensuring effective competition in the affected market is maintained, or prohibit the transaction if the effects on competition are significant and cannot be overcome.

5. Sanctions

The completion of a merger operation in violation of the decision of the Competition Authority refusing to approve the merger shall be subject to a fine that may go up to 10% of the previous year business volume of each of the companies involved.

The failure to notify the Competition Authority of a concentration operation subject to notification under the Competition Law shall be subject to a fine that may go up to 1% of the previous year business volume of the company.

6. State aid

The Competition Law does not include any procedure for controlling the legality of State aid.

However, without prejudice to the powers of the European Commission in this field, the Competition Authority may, at the request of any interested party, review any aid or projected aid and recommend the Government the measures that may required to eliminate the negative effects of such aid over competition.

© Macedo Vitorino e Associados – June 2003

This information is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. If you have any question on a matter of Portuguese law you should contact a lawyer registered to practice law in Portugal. If you are a client of Macedo Vitorino e Associados, you may contact us directly at mva@macedovitorino.com or your usual contact partner.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions