Amendments to the Finnish Competition Act to enter into force in June 2019

In May 2018, the Finnish Parliament issued a government bill (HE 68/2018) proposing several amendments to the Finnish Competition Act (948/2011). The proposed amendments will enter into force on 17 June 2019 and include, most notably, changes to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority’s (FCCA) dawn raid practices as well as deadlines for merger control decision-making, both further discussed below. In addition, the amendments include provisions enhancing information exchange between authorities, the FCCA’s prioritizing principles and an obligation for separate bookkeeping for public actors when carrying out functions in a competitive market environment.

In the future, the FCCA will have the power to conduct so called continued inspections during dawn raids. Essentially, the continued inspection provides the FCCA the possibility of making targeted searches to temporary copies of material collected during dawn raid inspections. The purpose of the provision is to ensure the continuity of business activities of the company (or companies) under investigations as well as to facilitate the FCCA’s work by moving the inspection of data itself to the FCCA’s premises. The provision may, however, produce challenges with regard to the companies’ defense rights and it should be noted that even during a continued inspection, the company has the right to have its representative present. After the continued inspection has been conducted, the temporary copies of data will be destroyed.

Furthermore, the FCCA’s right for inspection will in the future be irrespective of medium of storage, meaning that the FCCA may inspect laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other mobile devices of the company’s personnel. The above amendment stresses the importance of respecting the privacy of company’s employees, as the majority of data contained in a mobile device is usually private.

From 17 June forward, all merger control procedures will be dealt with in accordance with new provisions on deadlines for FCCA’s decision-making. Phase I investigation will in future last a maximum of 23 working days and the deadline for phase I decision will be calculated from the date following the receipt of a merger notification. In turn, phase II investigation will last a maximum of 69 working days and in exceptional cases, the Market Court may extend the phase II deadline by a maximum of 46 working days. The rationale behind the above amendment is to ensure a sufficiently thorough and effective investigation of each merger notification irrespective of the time when they were submitted to the FCCA.

The discussed amendments will enter into force on 17 June 2019, except the separate bookkeeping obligation which will enter into force on 1 January 2020.

Author

Iida Lindfors 
Associate
Helsinki