Fundamental changes in Swedish competition law were introduced 1993 when the new Competition Act came into force. This legislation incorporates to a very large extent EC competition law principles. The prohibitions of Articles 85 and 86 of the Rome Treaty have been transferred to the new Act as a mere blue print and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice shall be guiding on the interpretation of the Act.
The system of notifying agreements, investigating powers for the supervising authorities , i.a. in the form of "dawn-raids", and sanctions for infringements are very similalr to those in EC law.
Also a merger control system based on the EC Merger Regulation is part of the Act and there is an obligation to notify mergers and acquisitions when the turnover for the companies concerned exceed SEK 4 000 millions.
However, the Act is already now subject to a review as to its practical application. The government through the Department of Trade has made thorough hearings with all parties concerned such as organizations for various groups of industry, relevant authorities and courts and also practicing lawyers, including ourselves.
The main issues of the review are both substantive and procedural. A general view is that the Competition Act has created a complex and formal system. A particular area of criticism has been the merger control and the introduced notification obligation, principally on the same basis as form CO. Given the low notification threshold, already during the first two years about 400 notifications took place. Industry takes the position that the notification obligation should be abolished as under the previous system all sensitive mergers for competition were brought to the attention of the Competition Authority anyway. The treatment of joint ventures under the Act is also still unclear and has created unsatisfactory notification procedures. Reference has thereby been made to the EC Commission's Green Paper on the Revision on the EC Merger Control Regulation.There is also substantial criticism to the Swedish three-instance system for competition cases which has resulted in an unsatisfactory mixture of administrative and court procedural rules.
The results of the overview of the Act is supposed to be presented by the end of 1996. They will certainly be reported in a coming update.
The content of this article is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. It is therefore not a substitute for specialist advice.