On 29 December, the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court quashed the judgement of the Administrative regional court and transferred the dispute between “Maxima Latvija” Ltd. and the Competition Council for new examination. In its judgement, the Supreme Court referred to preliminary ruling given by the Court of Justice of the European Union asked for by the Supreme Court, and recognised that justification included in the judgement of the regional court is insufficient to make conclusions regarding correctness of the decision of the Competition Council. By respective decision, the Competition Council established violation stipulated in Section 11 (1) (7) of the Competition Law in the applicant’s activities, as it agreed with the lessor of sales premises and included in rent contracts clauses, which restricted entry of potential market participants in particular shopping centres. 

The case was delivered to the Supreme Court with the cassation complaint of the applicant, limited liability company “Maxima Latvija”, filed against judgement of the Administrative regional court. By respective judgement, the court rejected the application on abolition of the decision of the Competition Council, in which the Council pointed out violation of prohibition  stipulated in Section 11 (1) (7) of the Competition Law in activities performed by  “Maxima Latvija” and imposed the fine of Ls 25 000 (35 571,80 euro).

There is the dispute in the case whether the Competition Council correctly applied Section 11 (1) (7) of the Competition Law, having recognised such rent contract clauses, which restrict right of a lessor of the shopping centre to unilaterally decide on rent of other premises of the  shopping centre, as the prohibited agreement “for the purpose”.

On 28 June 2013, having examined the case in the first instance, the Administrative regional court recognised that group exemption stipulated in legal provisions does not refer to vertical agreements included in rent contracts between the applicant and lessors of the shopping centre, and, having assessed agreements according to content thereof, the court  recognised that the purpose of these agreements is to encumber entry of potential competitors of the applicant into the market, as the applicant is exactly the one, who decides whether to give its concord for rent of premises.

On 11 July 2014, the Supreme Court suspended proceedings in the case, referring for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Information prepared by Baiba Kataja, the Press secretary of the Supreme Court
Telephone: 67020396; e-mail: baiba.kataja@at.gov.lv