Cabinet steps up fight against cartels

The Swiss government has proposed a major revision of the country’s cartel law to stamp out illegal market fixing methods by businesses trying to stifle competition.

This content was published on February 22, 2012 - 16:05 and agencies

The proposals include changing the federal competition commission into an independent body, as well as banning so-called horizontal and vertical cartels.

The new watchdog will no longer have to prove the existence of a cartel, with the burden of proof now lying with companies to show their activities do not involve cartel activity. Sanctions would also be decided by the Federal Administrative Court.  

Horizontal cartels between suppliers concerning prices, quantities and geographical zones will be completely outlawed, as will be vertical cartels between producers and distributors on costs and exclusive sales zones.

Cartels would only be allowed if it can be shown that costs are reduced, give access to better products, promote research or the spread of technical know-how, as well as promote more rational use of resources.

As part of the revised law, consumers and public bodies will also be able to file complaints with a civil court if they consider themselves to be affected by a restriction of competition.

The economics ministry said the aim of the reform, to be discussed in parliament, is to boost competition in Switzerland and speed up legal procedures.

Under current law price agreements as well as deals over trade volumes or markets are outlawed if it hampers competition.

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