Resale price maintenance and price-fixing has been and still is under scrutiny by the Croatian Competition Agency (the "Agency"). Carrying on from a number of high-profile cases, in February 2017 the Agency fined Gorenje Zagreb, a subsidiary of Slovenia's premier manufacturer of household appliances for HRK 1,557,000 (approximately EUR 206,000).
The Agency determined that Gorenje Zagreb infringed competition laws for a significant period of time by pressuring resellers to abide by fixed or minimum resale prices. The Agency especially condemned Gorenje Zagreb's general terms, which included the problematic direct and/or indirect price-fixing provisions, a price monitoring system (wherein the company supervised whether its resellers followed instructions), and rebate incentives to follow the price policy.
During the course of the investigation, the Agency conducted dawn raids in the premises of Gorenje Zagreb, which resulted in the discovery of evidence that Gorenje Zagreb had indeed pressured the retailers and required them to unconditionally accept its pricing policy. In addition, the company also refused to supply the non-complying resellers, in order to discipline the entire network.
An interesting takeaway from this decision is that the Agency considered the resellers as the weaker parties to these agreements, and therefore did not fine them for anti-competitive behaviour, effectively conducting the proceedings as an informal dominance abuse case. Furthermore, the Agency did not accept commitments offered by Gorenje Zagreb. Even though the Agency has been generally willing to consider allowing the infringing undertakings to unilaterally remedy their problematic behaviour, the materiality of the competition infringement, as well as its duration precluded Gorenje Zagreb from being offered such an opportunity herein.
This information has been prepared by local lawyers in cooperation with Karanović&Nikolić. It does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.