On May 3, 2016, the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court
(LSAC) largely upheld fines originally imposed by the Lithuanian
competition authority on travel agency users of an online booking
system. The authority had fined several agencies for concerted
practices related to a common online travel reservation system. The
operator of the reservation platform had sent the travel agents
participating in the system an electronic message capping the
rebates that could be granted for products sold via the system and
had technically adapted the system so as to implement this cap. The
authority found this to constitute an illegal information exchange.
The case ultimately went on appeal to the EU's highest court
(the European Court of Justice) which held that travel agents which
knew the content of the message could be presumed to have
participated in an illegal concerted practice, unless they had
distanced themselves from the message, challenged its imposition or
adduced other evidence to rebut the presumption, such as
systematically granting higher rebates than those set under the
cap. The LSAC in its ruling was applying this judgment to the facts
of the case. It dropped the charges against some agencies for lack
of evidence that they that they were aware of the discount
restrictions but upheld the fines against all of the other agencies
(with some reductions). It is pertinent to note that the
dissemination of any type of restriction, suggestion or
recommendation in relation to pricing and other competitive issues,
or indeed pure information exchange on competitive parameters,
between competitors is dangerous under competition law in the
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Any person who claims to be the victim of anti-competitive practices and wishes to seek compensation for the prejudice they consider to have suffered must prove before the civil courts that the three conditions of third party liability under general laws –negligence, competitive harm, and direct causal link– have been met.
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