In March 2021, the Swiss parliament adopted far-reaching amendments to the Swiss Cartel Act and the Swiss Unfair Competition Act. The amendments are the response of the parliament to the popular initiative "Stop the high price island - for fair prices", which is better known as the "Fair Price Initiative".
Firstly, the prohibition of an abuse of dominance set forth in article 7 of the Swiss Cartel Act will be extended to undertakings with "relative market power". In practice, this means that numerous undertakings - including SMEs - will suddenly have to comply with the restrictions applicable to dominant undertakings. Amongst others, refusals to deal or a discrimination of trading partners might become unlawful. Terminations of long-standing business relationships can become more risky and cumbersome. In addition, the amended Cartel Act explicitly states that restrictions of the ability of customers to purchase goods or services offered in Switzerland and abroad at the prices and conditions prevailing abroad may amount to an abuse of dominance.
Secondly, geoblocking practices in the e-commerce sector will be restricted through the amended Unfair Competition Act. Concretely, it will be unlawful to discriminate Swiss customers with regard to prices or payment terms, to restrict their access to an online portal or to redirect them without their approval.
The new amendments are expected to enter into force shortly, possibly already in 2021 or at the latest in early 2022. The webinar will focus on the first aspect, the extension of article 7 of the Swiss Cartel Act to undertakings with "relative market power". Amongst others, the speakers will present the new rules and identify need for action for undertakings. For that purpose, we will also draw a comparison to the German law and practice, which covers conduct of undertakings with relative market power already for a long time and served as a model for the new Swiss competition rules.