COMPETITION PROTECTION IN CROATIA
Competition rules refer to the protection from concluding anti-competitive agreements, i.e. forming cartel agreements, as well as the prevention of the abuse of a dominant market position and merger control.
Assurance of equal business conditions and clear rules on allowed instruments for mutual competition is regulated by the Competition Act, while the Croatian competition agency is competent for it’s enforcement. The agency assesses trading agreements and identifies the abuse of a dominant market position (so called antitrust) and gives the assessment of concentrations of undertakings
The Agency has the power of imposing criminal and administrative measures to traders who violate competition regulations and it also carries out the leniency programme for those participants of cartel agreements who report such agreements to the Agency.
However, beside the protection in the administrative procedure in front of the Agency, a court protection of competition is also provided. It is regulated by the Economy Act, which forbids the so called unfair trade practices, i.e. those trader’s activities, by which good business customs are violated due to the competition.
As such activities are considered e.g.: sale of goods under it’s supply price with VAT; advertising or offer of goods or services by using expressions that abuse the reputation of another trader or products or services of another trader; sale of goods with marks or information that make or might make a confusion as to the source or production method; activities with the purpose of breaching business relations between other traders; unreasonable breaching a contract with one trader in order to close down the same or more favourable contract with other traders; export of goods or services with lower price if another trader has already agreed upon such export with higher price; giving or promising a gift to other trader in order to obtain privileges at a loss of another trader or customer etc.
Not only a trader that is damaged by forbidden activities of unfair trade practices, but also chambers and interest associations of traders can bring suit to recover damages in a court proceeding. There is a preclusive time limit for filing such claim within one year from the day that the claimant has found out for the act and the doer, and at the latest three years from the execution of the act.
Beside the claim for damages, the injured party can seek for the declaration of the unfair trading activity, prohibition of further similar activities, the restitution, announcement of a judgment in media etc.