Greece: Cartels

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This country-specific Q&A provides an overview to cartels laws and regulations that may occur in Greece.

This Q&A is part of the global guide to Cartels. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit http://www.inhouselawyer.co.uk/practice-areas/cartels/

  1. What is the relevant legislative framework?

    To start with, in Greece, both EU and national competition law apply to cartels. As far as EU competition law is concerned, the relevant provision is mainly article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union respectively (‘TFEU’). With regard to the Greek market, the main legislative text pertaining to the protection of free competition is Law 3959/2011, ‘Protection of Free Competition’ (the ‘Competition Act’), which abolished the long-lived Law 703/77, introduced when Greece was about to become a member of the European Economic Community (‘EEC’). Specifically, Law 703/1977 was abolished instead of being amended one more time because the legislator of Law 3959/2011 declared the intention to avoid the risk of conflicting rules and oversights and to produce a coherent statute that is easier to understand and to implement.

    The new Competition Act adopted the central structure of the former one, keeping intact, with only minor grammatical and technical changes, its core substantive law provisions; namely, article 1 on restrictive agreements, and article 2 on the abuse of a dominant position (closely drafted in line with articles 101 and 102 TFEU). The amendments regarding concentrations are also mostly technical in nature, whereby the respective provisions, as well as all the subsequent ones, have undergone extensive renumbering. The new Competition Act introduced, however, other significant amendments concerning, inter alia, the organisation and operation of the Hellenic Competition Commission (‘HCC’), the prioritisation of cases, the administrative and criminal penalties for violations, as well as several procedural rules. The amendments served the following objectives:

    • the harmonisation of Greek legislation with European standards and the modernisation of the operations of the HCC;
    • the strengthening of the deterrent effect of sanctions;
    • the empowerment of the authority to intervene in whole sectors of the economy;
    • the institutional strengthening of the HCC; and
    • the enhancement of the effectiveness of its actions.

    The Competition Act does not deploy nor define the term ‘cartel’. Nonetheless, correspondingly to the wording of article 101 TFEU, the notion of ‘cartel’ is essentially included in ‘agreements and concerted practices between undertakings and all decisions by associations of undertakings’. Note that the Competition Act does not distinguish between hardcore and other types of cartels; However, the HCC, following the settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the Commission’s decisional practice on competition enforcement, considers price fixing, output limitations agreements, market sharing and allocation of sales areas or customer groups, as serious restrictions.

    According to the Competition Act, the detection of a cartel incurs both administrative and criminal sanctions. In particular, apart from the imposition of fines by the HCC, cartel offenders also face criminal sanctions by the competent criminal courts.

    There are no any industry-specific defences or antitrust exemptions from the Competition Act. The latter applies equally to government-sanctioned activity or regulated conduct.

  2. To establish an infringement, does there need to have been an effect on the market?

    According to the well-established EU competition rules, competition law infringements are categorised as either ‘by object’ or ‘by effect’. The significance of the categorisation is associated with the severance of the infringement, as well as the requirement on the enforcing authority to establish anticompetitive effects in the relevant markets in order to identify an infringement and impose potentially severe penalties. Serious types of competition infringement are treated as amounting to by object infringements, since their actual effects are not relevant to the existence of a competition law infringement. To the contrary, arrangements, which fall outside this category, face a higher evidential hurdle from the enforcer’s perspective in that the competition authority must establish an anticompetitive effect as a direct result of the conduct in question.

    As already mentioned, the Greek legal instruments on cartels reflect the EU legislation, with article 1 of the Competition Act being tailored upon article 101 TFEU, to prohibit any agreement, concerted practice or decision of associations, which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the Greek territory. Therefore, according to the Greek legal framework, arrangements that have an effect on the market are also prohibited and penalised.

  3. Does the law apply to conduct that occurs outside the jurisdiction?

    Article 1 prohibitions are applicable only where the relevant agreement, decision or practice has as its object or effect the elimination, restriction or distortion of competition within the Hellenic Republic. In addition, under article 14, the HCC cooperates with the European Commission and the competition authorities of the other EU member states for the application of EU competition law, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Competition Act and of Regulation (EC) 1/2003.

  4. Which authorities can investigate cartels?

    The HCC is the authority responsible for the enforcement of the Competition Act, as well as articles 101 and 102 TFEU. Pursuant to Law 2296/95, the HCC was established as an independent administrative authority with procedural and decision-making autonomy. Furthermore, Law 2837/2000 vested the HCC with administrative and financial autonomy. According to article 12 of the Competition Act, the HCC has legal personality and appears in its own right before any court, in all kinds of proceedings, whereas its members enjoy personal and functional independence. The HCC performs all the enforcement actions of a designated national competition authority (NCA) to apply national and EU competition rules, in accordance with Regulation (EC) 1/2003 (see article 5). It also has consultative powers in the area of identifying and removing regulatory barriers to competition. In particular, the HCC has broad enforcement powers in the area of collusive practices and cartels, abuses of dominance and merger control. In this context, the HCC may:

    • take decisions finding an infringement of article 1 of the Competition Act and article 101 TFEU (collusive agreements and/or concerted practices between undertakings that have as their object or effect the restriction of competition) and impose administrative fines;
    • take decisions finding an infringement of article 2 of the Competition Act and article 102 TFEU (abuse of dominance) and impose administrative fines;
    • take interim measures in case of suspected infringement of articles 1, 2 and 11 of the Competition Act, as well as of articles 101 and 102 TFEU;
    • review prior notifications of envisaged mergers and acquisitions (merger control of concentrations), in accordance with articles 5 to 9 of the Competition Act, and impose pertinent measures and sanctions;
    • launch investigations and conduct dawn raids for the enforcement of antitrust and merger control rules;
    • deliver opinions on competition issues on its own initiative or upon request of the Minister of Development and Competitiveness or of any other competent minister, in accordance with article 23 of the Competition Act; and
    • conduct sector inquiries, in accordance with article 40 of the Competition Act.

    The HCC cooperates closely with the European Commission and the national competition authorities in all EU member states in order to enforce EU competition rules, primarily in the context of the Regulation (EC) 1/2003. Furthermore, it cooperates closely with other competition authorities in its capacity as a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Competition Network (ICN).

  5. What are the key steps in a cartel investigation?

    Investigations in cartel cases may be launched:

    • after the HCC’s ex officio initiation of proceedings;
    • following a complaint filed with the HCC; or
    • upon a leniency application.

    There are no particular legal requirements for lodging a complaint against a cartel. Unlike the proceedings before the European Commission, complainants are not required to demonstrate a legitimate interest for lodging the complaint.

    When the investigation is deemed mature and pursuant to the prioritisation system of the HCC, the President of the HCC – following a proposal by the Directorate-General – brings before the Commission the relevant cases.

    The cases are, then, assigned to a Commissioner-Rapporteur who shall submit a proposal to the Plenary of the HCC within one hundred and twenty days from its assignment (this time limit can be extended at most by sixty days).

    Each decision of the HCC is reached within twelve months from the assignment of the relevant case to the Commissioner-Rapporteur (this time limit can be extended at most by two months).

    Note that there is no time limit regarding the period between the initiation of proceedings and the assignment of the case to a rapporteur. However, when examining a case, the HCC should bear in mind that the infringements of the provisions of the Competition Act, which provide the HCC with the competency to impose penalties, are subject to a five-year limitation period. The limitation period commences on the day on which the infringement is committed or on the day on which the infringement ceases, in case of continuing or repeated infringements. Any action taken by the HCC or any other competent competition authority, for the purpose of the investigation or the proceedings in respect of the infringement in question, shall interrupt the limitation period for the imposition of fines.

  6. What are the key investigative powers that are available to the relevant authorities?

    The HCC has extensive investigative powers, which mirror the European Commission’s investigative powers in all key aspects. According to article 38 and 39 of the Competition Act, for the finding of an infringement under competition law, the authorised employees of the Directorate-General of the HCC exercise powers of a tax inspector and have the competency, in particular:

    • to examine every time and category of books, data and other records of the undertakings and associations of undertakings, as well as the electronic professional correspondence of the businessman, the people authorised for administration or management and the personnel, irrespective of the medium on which they are stored,
    • to carry out confiscation of books, records and other evidence, as well as electronic means of storage and transfer of data,
    • requests for information addressed to undertakings directly or indirectly involved and to market operators;
    • to conduct inspections of business premises, non-business premises, means of transport of undertakings or associations of undertakings concerned (dawn raids), as well as the homes of directors, managers, and other members of staff of the undertakings and associations of undertakings concerned, under the conditions set by law, and
    • to request information from an undertaking and/or association of undertakings or natural person in the context of an investigation (in the means of sworn or unsworn statements).

    In addition, the HCC may address compulsory requests for information also to public or other authorities. Public authorities and legal persons governed by public law have a duty of information. In the event of refusal, obstruction or delay in providing the information requested, the HCC may file an official report so that disciplinary action can be taken against civil servants or employees of public-law legal entities for the above infringements, which are a disciplinary offence.

    With regard to in situ inspections, a court warrant is not a prerequisite in order to conduct such inspection of business premises; it must be obtained, however, if the undertaking subject to the investigation refuses to accept the investigation. Similarly, in all inspections of non-business premises, a judge or public prosecutor should be present. In any case, when exercising their powers, employees of the Directorate-General of the HCC abide by the provision of article 9 of the Constitution on the asylum of residence.

    Upon conclusion of the investigation, a statement of objections (SO) is drafted and submitted to the HCC’s Competition Commission to decide whether the alleged infringement has been substantiated or not. The decision of the Competition Commission is issued within 30 days from the last session in which the examination of the case was concluded.

  7. On what grounds can legal privilege be invoked to withhold the production of certain documents in the context of a request by the relevant authorities?

    According to the EU legislation, as interpreted by the CJEU, the legal professional privilege with respect to communications between lawyers and their clients is a fundamental legal right, the benefit of which is subject to two cumulative conditions. First, the exchange with the lawyers must be connected to the client’s rights of defence and, second, the exchange must emanate from independent lawyers, that is to say, lawyers who are not bound to the client by a relationship of employment. Nonetheless, according to the Greek legal doctrine and the established case law, the legal privilege extends to in-house lawyers to the same extend that it applies to independent lawyers.

  8. What are the conditions for a granting of full immunity? What evidence does the applicant need to provide? Is a formal admission required?

    International experience shows that leniency programmes play a crucial role in the enforcement against cartels, as they offer incentives for active cooperation of undertakings and/or individuals involved in anti-competitive behaviour, without which cartels would be hard to detect. Pursuant to decision No. 526/VI/2011, the HCC introduced a revised leniency programme (firstly introduced in 2005), with a view of promoting full alignment with current EU applicable standards.

    The programme applies only to prohibited horizontal anti-competitive agreements/concerted practices in the form of a cartel and does not extend to vertical agreements or abuses of dominant position. The current leniency programme provides for full and partial immunity and introduces the following requirements:

    a. The undertaking concerned cooperates genuinely, fully, continuously and expeditiously from the time it submits its application throughout the HCC’s administrative procedure and has not destroyed or concealed evidence pertaining to the cartel;

    b. The undertaking concerned stopped its involvement in the alleged cartel immediately following the submission of its application or evidence; and

    c. The applicant has treated its application as fully confidential, until the issuance of a statement of objections by the HCC. Note that the identity of the applicant is kept confidential until the issuance of the statement of objections and the initiation of proceedings against the alleged cartelists.

    Full immunity (‘Type 1A’) is granted to the applicant who will be the first to submit evidence enabling the HCC to initiate a targeted inspection with regard to a suspected cartel, as long as the HCC was not already in possession at the time of the application of sufficient evidence allowing it to initiate the investigative procedure. Alternatively, full immunity (‘Type 1B’) shall be granted to the applicant who will be the first to submit evidence enabling the HCC to establish an infringement, in case the evidence already in the HCC’s possession were not sufficient in this respect.

    Note that an undertaking that took out actions in order to coerce other companies to participate in the collusive agreement is not eligible for Type 1A or Type 1B immunity. This exception, however, does not apply to individuals - officers or employees - of the undertaking concerned.

  9. What level of leniency, if any, is available to subsequent applicants and what are the eligibility conditions?

    As already, mentioned, both full and partial leniency are provided under the leniency programme. In order to qualify for partial immunity (‘Type 2’) the undertaking concerned shall not be the first to submit information; however, it must provide the HCC with evidence that has an added value with respect to the evidence already possessed by the HCC. The requirements listed above under question 3.1 must also be met in the case of partial immunity. Note that for the second undertaking to meet the aforementioned criterion, a reduction of 20 per cent to 30 per cent is applied. Finally, for the subsequent undertakings that meet aforementioned criterion, a reduction of up to 20 per cent shall be granted.

  10. Are markers available and, if so, in what circumstances?

    To start with, there are no deadlines for initiating or completing an application for immunity and/or partial leniency. Under the current leniency programme, the applicant may request a ‘marker’, i.e. protecting the applicant’s place in the queue for a given period of time (decided by the President on an ad hoc basis), thus allowing it to collect all evidence necessary in order to meet the conditions and requirements for immunity. The set of information required to obtain a ‘marker’ includes the identification of the alleged cartel members, the affected geographic and product markets, and the cartel’s duration, nature and operation, as well as potential leniency applications submitted to other NCAs. As long as the information and evidence requested is dully adduced, the latter is deemed to have been submitted at the time when the marker was granted. With regard to the procedural formalities, an undertaking wishing to apply for leniency should contact the President of the HCC, who immediately informs the HCC’s Director General or, as long as the case has been already prioritised and assigned to a Member of the HCC Board, the competent Commissioner-Rapporteur.

  11. What is required of immunity/leniency applicants in terms of ongoing cooperation with the relevant authorities?

    Even though the leniency programme does not provide for specific requirements regarding the ongoing cooperation with the HCC, it can be deduced that the degree of cooperation between the infringer and the HCC will be taken into consideration as a mitigating circumstance when imposing the fines.

  12. Does the grant of immunity/leniency extend to immunity from criminal prosecution (if any) for current/former employees and directors?

    As far as natural persons are concerned, the granting of full immunity also absolves them from criminal liability, while the granting of a fine reduction is regarded as a mitigating circumstance, resulting to the imposition of reduced sanction in line with requirements of the Greek Penal Code. Nonetheless, neither the Competition Act nor the leniency programme make any reference regarding the treatment of current or former employees in the event immunity or leniency is granted to a corporate defendant.

  13. Is there an ‘amnesty plus’ programme?

    No ‘amnesty plus’ programme is provided under the Greek legal order.

  14. Does the investigating authority have the ability to enter into a settlement agreement or plea bargain and, if so, what is the process for doing so?

    Since leniency and settlement are not mutually exclusive, where applicable, any reduction of fines under the settlement procedure shall be cumulative with any fine reduction that may apply under the leniency programme.

    Law 4389/2016 recently introduced the settlement procedure concerning cases where undertakings or associations of undertakings make a clear and unequivocal acknowledgement of participation and liability in relation to their participation in horizontal agreements (cartels) into the Greek legal order, while decision No. 628/2016 of the HCC laid out the specifics of this procedure. As a result, infringers can obtain a reduction of the imposed fine by 15 per cent, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled. The reduction of the fine amounting to 15 per cent due to settlement will be deducted from the fine that a company would normally have to pay according to the provisions of the current HCC’s guidelines on fines.

    Settlement discussions may commence on the parties’ initiative at any stage of the investigation; in case a statement of objection has been issued, undertakings must express their interest not later than 35 days prior to the hearing before the HCC. The procedure is initiated by a decision of the HCC and the latter enjoys unfettered discretion in determining whether a specific case is suitable for settlement . Consequently, the HCC may discontinue the procedure at any time. Furthermore, a party may withdraw at any time. In such case, the normal procedure will be initiated upon completion of the settlement procedure for the rest undertakings. [Points to cover: (i) brief description of the procedure for settlement (if any); (ii) whether hybrid settlements are possible; (iii) at what point in the process can/should commitments be offered; and (iv) is court approval required.]

  15. What are the key pros and cons for a party that is considering entering into settlement?

    Upon commencement of the settlement proceedings, bilateral discussions between the parties and the HCC take place, with the view to presenting at each undertaking considering settlement with the necessary information concerning the case and the range of the possible fines. During the bilateral meetings, the undertakings concerned shall be heard effectively and shall have the opportunity to present their comments on the alleged infringement. When the bilateral discussions are completed, and as long as the HCC considers there is room for settlement, a deadline for submissions is set. The official settlement proposals shall include, inter alia, unequivocal acknowledgement of participation and liability; acceptance of the maximum amount of fine that may be imposed; confirmation that the parties waive their right to obtain full access to the file and be heard in an oral hearing; waiver of the right to challenge the validity of the procedure followed. If the settlement proposals reflect the consensus reached under the bilateral discussions, a settlement recommendation is drafted by the HCC and served to the parties who are asked to unconditionally confirm (settlement declaration) its content.

    The benefits for a party considering to enter into settlement includes the quick processing of the administrative procedure before the HCC, as well as the benefit of a reduction of the imposed fine by 15 per cent. Moreover, according to Article 44 (3) of the Competition Act, as recently amended pursuant to Law No. 4389/2016, criminal liability for any relevant crimes based on the infringement duly acknowledged by the undertaking is effaced, as long as the fines ultimately imposed are paid in full.

    Nonetheless, when an undertaking or association of undertakings decides to resort to a settlement, it should also consider the potential disadvantages. More particularly:

    • Since a settlement with the HCC leads to undertaking or association of undertakings making a clear and unequivocal acknowledgement of participation and liability in relation to their participation in a cartel, this might encourage and/or enable third party claims for damages (given the facilitation of such claims under the recent EU and national legislation, see below questions 7.1 and 7.2);
    • Moreover, a settlement usually deprives the infringers from any rights to appeal the HCC decision before national courts;
    • Infringers whose business is associated with participation in public procurement procedures, shall be excluded from future public tenders due to the settlement; and
    • the acknowledgement of participation and liability in a case may also have a compounding impact on other ongoing investigations before the HCC.
  16. What is the nature and extent of any cooperation with other investigating authorities, including from other jurisdictions?

    The HCC, as the NCA, is responsible for cooperation:

    • with the competition authorities of the European Commission and for providing its designated bodies with the necessary assistance to undertake the controls provided for under EU law; and
    • with the competition authorities of other countries.

    If an undertaking that has its seat or exercises its activity in Greece refuses to allow the inspection provided for under EU law, the Competition Commission and its empowered body, acting ex officio or following a relevant request from the bodies designated by the European Commission, shall ensure overall proper conduct of the investigation, in particular by providing necessary assistance, implementing in this instance the provisions of article 38 of Law 3959/2011.

    Therefore, the HCC, according to national legislation, cooperates closely with the European Commission and the national competition authorities in all EU member states in order to enforce the EU competition rules, primarily in the context of Regulation (EC) 1/2003. Furthermore, it cooperates closely with other competition authorities (ie, mutual legal assistance treaties, MOUs, cooperation agreements, etc), in its capacity as a member of the OECD and the ICN. [To cover: (i) nature and extent of inter-agency cooperation; and (ii) based on previous practice, the weight attached to leniency applications or settlement agreements made in other jurisdictions.]

  17. What are the potential civil and criminal sanctions if cartel activity is established?

    Pursuant to Article 44 of the Competition Act, whoever concludes an anti-competitive agreement, takes a decision or implements a concerted practice, shall be punished with a financial penalty ranging between € 15,000 and € 150,000. If such an act further pertains to undertakings which are actual or potential competitors (a provision interpreted as covering cartels), a prison sentence between two to five years, as well as a financial penalty between € 100,000 and € 1,000,000 shall be imposed. As mentioned above, the power to impose criminal sanctions lies within the competence of the criminal courts.

    Note that from a practical perspective, even though administrative and criminal sanctions can be pursued in parallel with regards to the same conduct, public prosecutors usually initiate proceedings following the adoption of an infringement decision by the HCC or otherwise stay proceedings until the HCC has issued a decision on the case at hand.

  18. What factors are taken into account when the fine is set? In practice, what is the maximum level of fines that has been imposed in the case of recent domestic and international cartels?

    According to Article 25 (2) of the Competition Act, the administrative fine imposed for infringement of article 1 of the Competition Act and article 101 TFEU may be up to 10% of the total turnover of the undertaking concerned for the financial year in which the infringement ceased, or in case the infringement continues, for the financial year preceding the issuance of the decision. Where it is possible to calculate the level of the economic benefit the undertaking concerned derived from the infringement, the fine shall be no less than that, even if said amount exceeds the aforementioned 10% cap.

    Guidelines on the method of setting fines have been published by the HCC, echoing the methodology set out in the European Commission’s Fining Guidelines. According to the Guidelines, in determining the level of the fine, account must be taken of the gravity, duration and geographical scope of the infringement; the duration and nature of participation in the infringement by the undertaking concerned and also its economic benefit derived therefrom. Additional adjustments are possible on the basis of other objective factors, including the specific economic characteristics of the undertakings in question, whereas in recent decisions the financial turbulence of certain sectors of the Greek economy has been taken into consideration as a mitigating circumstance.

    Nevertheless, according to settled case law of the Administrative Court of Appeals, the HCC has a wide margin of appreciation when setting the level of fines on undertakings.
    With regard to the recent decisional practice of the HCC on cartel-type cases, the highest fines imposed include:

    a. Over € 27 million fines were imposed in the case of the bid-rigging cartel in tenders for public works of infrastructure, as was announced recently (March 2019). The fines were imposed on four construction companies that did not submit an application for settlement;

    b. Approximately € 81 million fines were imposed in the same case of the construction cartel in 2017, regarding the undertakings that filed an application for settlement; the HCC imposed hefty fines on several construction groups, for collusive tendering in high value public infrastructure projects. This case also led to the imposition of a € 38.5 million fine, namely the largest ever in its history imposed on one single undertaking;

    c. Total fines of € 19 million for horizontal anti-competitive agreement between wholesalers of luxury cosmetics pertaining to a coordinated pricing, commercial, and marketing policy. The decision of the HCC was published in 2017, following a settlement procedure.

    d. Total fines of approximately € 40 million were imposed to undertakings active in the production and distribution of poultry-meat in Greece for price fixing.

    e. Total fines of more than € 48 million imposed to seven undertakings in the diary industry regarding anti-competitive agreements in the dairy products’ market.

  19. Are parent companies presumed to be jointly and severally liable with an infringing subsidiary?

    The HCC, echoing the CJEU’s case law on this matter, distinguishes between cases where parent companies have 100% shareholding in the subsidiary and those where they do not have, but there could be evidence of exercise of control over the subsidiary. In the first case, the HCC differentiates slightly from the rebuttable presumption applied by the CJEU that the parent company exercises control over the subsidiary, considering the parent company to be jointly and severally liable with the infringing – totally owned – subsidiary only if additional evidence are presented in this regard. In case the parent company does not have total ownership of the subsidiary, in order to be found jointly and severally liable, the HCC shall have to prove that the subsidiary was actually operating under the decisive influence of the parent company.

  20. Are private actions and/or class actions available for infringement of the cartel rules?

    In Greece, private antitrust litigation, albeit still at embryonic stage, is an expanding area of legal practice that has emerged from the growing public enforcement of competition law in recent years, as well as the adoption of Directive 2014/104/EU (Damages Directive) on antitrust damages action. More particularly, Greece has only recently transposed the Damages Directive by virtue of Law No. 4529/2018, which introduced a set of substantive and procedural rules aimed at facilitating the effective exercise of the rights of the injured parties to seek compensation for antitrust infringements. This specialised legal framework complements the general rules of civil liability under the Greek Civil Code (‘GCC’), which was, until its the enactment in March 2018, the only applicable set of rules for antitrust damages claims. Therefore, the recently introduced provisions are systematically integrated into the general civil liability framework of the CC. The provisions of Law No. 4529/2018, being lex specialis, prevail over those of the GCC, however, on issues that Law No. 4529/2018 does not address, the pertinent GCC provisions are still applicable. The same applies with regard to the general rules on civil procedure.

    The new law on antitrust damages actions does not include any specific provisions on collective actions, nor does Greek Code of civil procedure (‘GCCP’) provide for collective proceedings specifically for competition law matters. It is further noted that a collective redress mechanism was introduced in article 10 (16) of Law No. 2251/1994 on consumers’ protection, addressed only to certain certified consumers’ associations. This mechanism gave them the right to file class actions for the protection of the interests of its members in relation, however, to violations of consumer protection legislation and not for competition law infringements.

  21. What type of damages can be recovered by claimants and how are they quantified?

    According to the general provisions of civil law, both damages and restitution are in principle available as compensation, depending on the circumstances. Damages are awarded on the basis of the compensatory-restorative principle (therefore, no punitive or exemplary damages are available). A person who has suffered harm is entitled to full compensation, covering both actual loss (positive damage) and loss of profit, plus the payment of interest. Punitive or exemplary damages are not available under Greek law. Furthermore, the administrative fines of the competition authority are not taken into account when setting damages and the claimant is entitled to seek full compensation regardless of the fines imposed in the context of public enforcement.

    With respect to the quantification of harm, the requisite standard of proof is effectively reduced by virtue of article 14 of Law No. 4529/2018, which empowers civil courts to estimate the amount of harm (if it is established that a claimant suffered harm but it is practically impossible or excessively difficult precisely to quantify the harm suffered on the basis of the evidence available), on the basis of probability. The same reduced standard (probability) also applies with regard to quantifying the overcharge in the context of the passing-on defence (article 11 (3) of Law No. 4529/2018).

  22. On what grounds can a decision of the relevant authority be appealed?

    According to article 30 (1) of the Competition Act, the decisions of the HCC are subject to an appeal before the Athens Administrative Court of Appeals within a time limit of 60 days following notification of the HCC’s decision to the parties concerned. In addition, an appeal before the Council of State (Supreme Court) against the decision of the appellate court can be filed within 60 days following the issuance of the decision of the Athens Administrative Court of Appeal (article 32 of the Competition Act). While the appellate court may review the case on its merits, the appeal to the Council of State is limited only to points of law.

  23. What is the process for filing an appeal?

    See above.

  24. What are some recent notable cartel cases (limited to one or two key examples, with a very short summary of the facts, decision and sanctions/level of fine)?

    The recent notable developments in competition law enforcement relate to the adoption of the settlement procedure in 2016. Following this, the HCC has already issued two settlement decisions: the first one pertained to a collusion between cosmetic retailers and the second one was a landmark decision on the bid-rigging cartel in tenders for public works of infrastructure. The latter, published in March 2017, concerned collusive schemes (spanning from 1981 to 2012) regarding tenders for public works of infrastructure fifteen undertakings active in the construction sector in Greece and led to the imposition of fines totaling approximately € 81 million. One undertaking also received full immunity from fines. This was the first successful application of the revised leniency programme in Greece.

    Finally, a recent development relating to the organisational structure of the HCC is the appointment in December 2018 of a new President with a five years term.

  25. What are the key recent trends (e.g. in terms of fines, sectors under investigation, applications for leniency, approach to settlement, number of appeals, etc.)?

    The recent notable developments in competition law enforcement relate to the adoption of the settlement procedure in 2016. Following this, the HCC has already issued two settlement decisions: the first one pertained to a collusion between cosmetic retailers and the second one was a landmark decision on the bid-rigging cartel in tenders for public works of infrastructure. The latter, published in March 2017, concerned collusive schemes (spanning from 1981 to 2012) regarding tenders for public works of infrastructure fifteen undertakings active in the construction sector in Greece and led to the imposition of fines totaling approximately € 81 million. One undertaking also received full immunity from fines. This was the first successful application of the revised leniency programme in Greece.

    Finally, a recent development relating to the organisational structure of the HCC is the appointment in December 2018 of a new President with a five years term.

  26. What are the key expected developments over the next 12 months (e.g. imminent statutory changes, procedural changes, upcoming decisions, etc.)?

    The recent notable developments in competition law enforcement relate to the adoption of the settlement procedure in 2016. Following this, the HCC has already issued two settlement decisions: the first one pertained to a collusion between cosmetic retailers and the second one was a landmark decision on the bid-rigging cartel in tenders for public works of infrastructure. The latter, published in March 2017, concerned collusive schemes (spanning from 1981 to 2012) regarding tenders for public works of infrastructure fifteen undertakings active in the construction sector in Greece and led to the imposition of fines totaling approximately € 81 million. One undertaking also received full immunity from fines. This was the first successful application of the revised leniency programme in Greece.

    Finally, a recent development relating to the organisational structure of the HCC is the appointment in December 2018 of a new President with a five years term.