Hungarian Competition Law & Policy: The Watermelon Omen

Pal Szilagyi, Oct 30, 2012

Looking at recent developments in Hungarian competition law and policy first gives us the impression that nothing exciting is happening. Most developments are business as usual at the national competition authority. (In Hungarian the proper name of the authority is the Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, but for English speakers we refer to it by its initials, “GVH.”) The GVH has amended some notices (e.g. on simplified procedures in merger control or on fines) and brought them into line with recent developments on the European level. There have been few antitrust decisions by the authority, but several are in the pipeline. A few of them are related to the abuse of a dominant position (e.g. a case initiated against MasterCard Europe Sprl) and some more investigations focus on suspected cartels (e.g. one on a suspected cartel in the residential mortgage sector). There was even a case where the courts annulled the decision of the GVH in a merger case because of insufficient reasoning and evidence.

One interesting event, however, could have a general impact on the application of national competition law provisions on all the Member States of the European Union. In 2006 the GVH imposed one of the largest fines in Hungarian competition law (about 7 billion HUF); the case was appealed and finally, just recently, the highest court in Hungary has made a preliminary rulings request. The value of the request to existing European case law is that the Hungarian court …


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