The new Competition Act will enter into force on 17 June 2019, and it gives the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) more extensive powers to investigate competition restrictions, mergers and acquisitions.
The processing times for merger control will change so that processing times are calculated in working days instead of calendar months. From now on, the processing times will be 23 working days for Stage I and 69 working days for Stage II. The Market Court can extend the deadline for no more than 46 working days.
As a result of the amendment, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority has the right to continue the audit of a company’s electronic material at its own premises. This means that the FCCA can make temporary copies of the data during the inspection and conduct searches into them at FCCA premises. Prior to the amendment, the FCCA could only investigate at the premises of the company.
In the future, the FCCA’s right to audit will be independent of the storage medium, meaning that the inspecting officers will have the right to investigate mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets.
In addition, the Competition Act contains a provision on accounting separation. This provision on competition neutrality obligates municipalities, federations of municipalities, the state and entities controlled by them competing on the market to keep a separate account of their economic activity. The aim is to enhance the FCCA’s ability to oversee market-based pricing in those occasions in which a public entity or entity controlled by it engages in economic activity as a competitor on the market and also in other activities. The obligation to keep separate accounts will enter into force on the 1st of January 2020.
The FCCA’s discretion to investigate cases will expand. The amendment gives the FCCA the possibility to declare a matter inadmissible even in cases where it is unlikely that the suspected restriction would significantly affect the conditions for healthy and functional competition.
In addition, the Competition Act will include a provision on the exchange of information between national authorities, allowing them to exchange information more extensively.