Over 100 decisions since 2000 and five pending cases have prompted the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to provide guidance on how cemeteries administrators ought to comply with antitrust rules.
For many years now, UOKiK has been carefully monitoring the funeral services sector. All activities related to such services come under UOKiK’s scrutiny, which seeks to ensure they are delivered in a competitive environment. At the same time, the market for the provision of cemetery services, covering maintenance and administration of cemetery sites (cleaning of the site, development of the infrastructure), falls outside UOKiK’s jurisdiction, as the performance of these services remains in the sole hands of the cemetery administrator (municipalities for communal cemeteries or parishes for religious ones) or of the entity it commissions.
The most common form of infringement in the funeral services sector is abuse by the administrators of the cemeteries of their market position. Administrators prevent other entities providing funeral services from entering the market or limit their freedom to provide funeral services. They also tend to favour selected undertakings, granting them exclusivity rights in various areas.
The consequences of such behaviour are serious, as customers ordering funeral services are denied the opportunity to choose the most competitive offer. At the same time, administrators of cemeteries lack motivation to increase the quality of the funeral services they offer or to lower prices.
UOKiK has concluded that most of these infringements stem from a lack of awareness of the competition provisions. As part of its advocacy initiatives, UOKiK has decided to guide the administrators of cemeteries through these provisions and equip them with a set of useful tips on how to comply with antitrust rules.
See Press release (in Polish).