Simultaneous Application of EU and National Competition Law by the Same Competition Authority: No Ne Bis In Idem

April 2019

CPI EU News Column edited by Thibault Schrepel, Sam Sadden & Jan Roth (CPI) presents:

Simultaneous Application of EU and National Competition Law by the Same Competition Authority: No Ne Bis In Idem By Pieter Van Cleynenbreugel (Université de Liège)1

Case C-617/17, Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń na Życie, EU:C:2019:283, April 3, 2019

Two Simultaneous Fines for the Same Competition Law Infringement

Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń na Życie (“PZU”) is a large Polish insurance company, which had abused its dominant position on the Polish market for employees’ life insurance. The Polish Competition Authority (Urzędu Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów or “UOKiK”) found that PZU’s behavior fell within the scope of Polish competition law. As PZU’s behavior closed off the Polish market for foreign insurance providers,2 the UOKiK was also obliged to apply Article 102 TFEU.3 Concluding that there was an infringement of both provisions, the UOKiK decided to impose two fines: one of €4,033,000 for the infringement of Article 102 and one of €11,697,000 for the infringement of a similar provision under Polish competition law.4

In subsequent review procedures against the UOKiK’s Decision going up all the way to the Polish Supreme Court, PZU raised the question as to whether the imposition of two fines for essentially the same behavior was compatible with the principle of ne bis in idem in Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Europ…

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