We were able to get the “Conseil de la Concurrence” (Competition Council) to declare prosecution intended against our client by the Rapporteur wrongfully based upon anti-competition collusion.
Prosecution authorities of the Conseil de la Concurrence blamed several healthcare institutions to grant the “Pompes Funèbres Générales” an exclusivity clause for dead people transportation to funeral chamber.
A competitor considered the agreement constitutive of an obstacle to families’ free will and, as a consequence, preventing other companies to enter the market.
After Rapporteur Général of the Conseil de la Concurrence thorough investigation, our client was prosecuted for agreement between undertakings creating a distortion of competition within the internal market.
In this context, prosecuted companies are exposed to a maximum penalty of 10% of their turnover.
Even though investigations highlighted privileged relationship agreements with the Pompes Funèbres Générales, we managed to convince the Conseil de la Concurrence that these old contracts have never been implemented and that in any case, prosecutions were inadmissible due to limitation periods running.
In this case, we also questioned the Conseil de la Concurrence on the matter of competition rules inapplicability to a company with no purchase, sale or services activity on the relevant market.
In this case, healthcare institutions were only acting as intermediary between families and funeral companies.
In its comments, the Government Commissioner pointed out the great interest and innovation of the question. Nevertheless, he suggested that it would be premature to establish case-law on such a sensitive subject.
By judging that grievances were lacking of characterization, the Conseil de la Concurrence did not have to take position on the question.
This judgment was confirmed by the “Chambre de la concurrence” Paris Court of Appeal.