Enforcement, cases and decisions in the competition area
The Swedish Competition Authority investigates whether undertakings are in breach of the competition rules. We may decide that undertakings that do so must stop acting in ways that restrict competition. Undertakings that undermine competition also risk being forced to pay an administrative fine to the Swedish state. Undertakings or consumers affected by the conduct may claim damages from the undertaking.
In order to ensure that undertakings do not violate competition law, we exercise enforcement. This means that we investigate various types of conduct that we suspect may restrict competition and which violate the Competition Act.
We can launch cases on our own initiative, but often our investigations are based on someone submitting a tip-off or complaint. Undertakings that participate in illegal cooperation can report their conduct themselves and avoid or reduce the fine they may otherwise be required to pay.
We prioritise between cases
Every year we receive several hundred tips and complaints and we also come up with our own ideas for cases. We cannot investigate them all, so we have to make a selection. We make this selection based on our prioritisation policy, wherein we describe which grounds for prioritisation we use and how we weigh them against each other.
The general starting point is that we prioritise cases that are of a general interest and which lead to clear results. In keeping with our mission, the aim is always to promote effective competition in private and public activities for the benefit of consumers.
If we decide not to intervene in a case, the undertakings concerned can take the matter to court themselves in order to put an end to anticompetitive behaviour.
The investigation process
When investigating a case, we often need to collect a large amount of information in order to map what has happened, understand how the market works, and assess whether competition has been negatively affected.
We use various tools to collect information. For example, we may oblige undertakings to provide us with information, we can make unannounced visits to undertakings (so-called “dawn raids”), and we can conduct interviews.
Voluntary commitment to change
During an investigation, undertakings sometimes voluntarily change their conduct and we therefore determine that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation. We may also decide to bind an undertaking to its voluntary commitment. The voluntary commitment of an undertaking to change its behaviour can be a quick and effective way to address a suspected competition problem.
If an undertaking violates any of the prohibitions in the Competition Act, it may face sanctions. The Swedish Competition Authority or the Patent and Market Court may order undertakings to cease conduct that violates the prohibitions in the Competition Act. We can also decide that an undertaking must pay an administrative fee to the Swedish state for undermining competition.
The court may prohibit public actors engaged in anticompetitive sales activities from acting in ways that restrict competition. An undertaking that has breached any of the prohibitions in the Competition Act may also be liable to pay damages to undertakings and consumers who have suffered harm.
We also work with preventive measures that make it easier for undertakings to do the right thing and avoid breaking the competition rules. For example, we disseminate knowledge about the rules through digital guides, seminars and reports.