23. 3. 2020
Czech competition law experts Robert Neruda, Martin Nedelka and Pavel Dejl have written an open letter to the management of the Office for the Protection of Competition (the “Office”). The purpose of the letter is to offer a constructive discussion and propose measures that could be implemented in competition policy to help resolve the complicated and unprecedented situation faced by the society and the economy in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government measures introduced in connection with the pandemic have a severe impact on the functioning of individual institutions, businesses and the entire economy of the Czech Republic. “The economy urgently needs for businesses to continue to operate to the largest extent possible. Entrepreneurs are already now facing major difficulties and may be forced to look for new business solutions, restructure their business models or combine with other businesses to survive. It is absolutely necessary that such solutions be implemented as soon as possible”, states the open letter, which can also be joined by other lawyers.
In connection with the current situation, the authors of the letter propose that a more lenient policy should be applied in respect of the standstill obligation. The obligation prohibits undertakings concerned from implementing a transaction before its clearance by the Office. If implemented, the proposal would significantly alleviate the pressure faced by parties to transactions, thus facilitating fast restructuring without disrupting the essence of concentration control. If the Office is indeed more lenient in granting exemptions to the prohibition for an interim period, the authors believe that this would bring considerable relief to parties to transactions, and expedite concentrations of undertakings without distorting the very substance of concentration control.
“My colleagues and I highly appreciate the Office’s determination to ensure smooth control of concentrations, although its work has now become immensely complicated, and we acknowledge its constructive approach. For this reason, we present the Office with proposals for discussion so that competition law could make a more substantial contribution to managing this unprecedented situation,” adds Robert Neruda, a partner at HAVEL & PARTNERS who worked at the Office for eight years, two of those as a vice-chairman.
The original version of the open letter to the Office is available here:Download PDF