On 6 December 2016, the Hungarian Parliament adopted substantial
changes to the Hungarian Competition Act, which were published in
Hungary's official journal on 15 December 2016 (the
"Amendment"). With some exceptions, the new provisions
will enter in force on 15 January 2017. The main changes include
Under the current regime, mergers must be notified to the
Hungarian Competition Authority (the "GVH") if, in the
preceding business year, the undertakings concerned achieved a
combined turnover of more than HUF 15 billion (approximately
€ 50 million) and the turnovers of at least two of the
groups concerned exceeded HUF 500 million (approximately
€ 1.6 million). The Amendment modifies this regime in the
First, the Amendment increases the above-mentioned HUF 500
million threshold to HUF 1 billion (approximately € 3.2
million), thus limiting the group of mergers that must be notified
by virtue of meeting turnover thresholds.
Second, the Amendment creates a new regime for mergers that do
not meet the HUF 15 billion and the new HUF 1 billion thresholds
(see above) but still must be notified if
it is not obvious that the
concentration does not significantly lessen competition on the
relevant market, particularly by creating or strengthening a
dominant position; and
the combined turnover of the groups
concerned exceeded HUF 5 billion (approximately € 16
The mergers falling under this new regime are not subject to any
standstill obligation and the GVH may only investigate them for six
months after the implementation of the concentration (whereas
concentrations that must be notified for meeting the HUF 15
billion and HUF 1 billion thresholds may be investigated for five
While currently the thresholds for companies registered in
Hungary is calculated on the basis of their worldwide turnovers,
pursuant to the Amendment, such companies' thresholds will also
be calculated on the basis of turnover achieved in Hungary
Importantly, in the future, pursuant to the Amendment,
concentrations will first need to be notified to the GVH in a
simplified form. Following that notification, the GVH will need to
decide within 8 days whether to initiate an investigation,
otherwise the concentration can be implemented. The administrative
fee for such notifications will amount to HUF 1 million
(approximately € 3,200).
While dawn raids are currently only available for the
investigation of alleged abuses of a dominant position or
restrictive agreements, pursuant to the Amendment, dawn raids will
also be available in merger cases, for the investigation of gun
jumping and the provision of incomplete or incorrect data.
The Amendment transposes Directive 2014/104 on antitrust damages
actions (the "Damages Directive"), resulting in a number
Previously, damages could not be collected from leniency
applicants who received full immunity, unless the other cartel
members were unable to pay. After the Amendment, leniency
applicants will be liable for the damage caused to their own direct
or indirect purchasers or suppliers.
The Amendment opens the way for the courts to order the
disclosure of certain information based on a reasoned request
subject to certain exceptions (e.g. privileged communication).
Pursuant to the Amendment, damages applicants will be able to
benefit from a rebuttable presumption concerning the passing-on
defence (i.e. the defendant will need to prove that the price
increase has been passed on) and will continue to benefit from the
ten-percent-presumption under Hungarian competition law (i.e. the
defendant will need to prove that the price increase was less than
Previously, leniency was available only for horizontal hard-core
cartels. Following the Amendment, all agreements directly or
indirectly aiming at the setting of prices, including vertical
price-fixing, can be subject to leniency applications.
Undertakings admitting the infringement in a settlement
procedure were able to receive a 10% discount from fines. In order
to make settlements more attractive, the Amendment increased the
maximum level of the fine-reduction to the level of between 10% and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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