Article 11 al2 (b)
Annex I al1 20.
|Common name||Decision type||Court decision, first degree|
|Court||Vilniaus apygardos administracnis teismas (Vilnius)||Plaintiff(s)||Estonian company AS Viasat|
|Court translation||Vilnius County Administrative Court (Vilnius)||Defendant(s)||Competition Council|
|Keywords||administrative actions, administrative authority, black list, judicial recourse, jurisdiction, misleading advertising, penalties|
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In order to impose a fine for a blacklisted misleading commercial practice falling under unfair competition regulations, it is necessary to prove that such practice has impaired the interests of a major part of businesses or consumers.
The plaintiff used a number of advertising statements including “Catch a golden zero” and “Order a GOLDEN PACKET now and watch more than 50 TV channels freely for a year”. The consumer, willing to benefit from said offer, had to pay a one-time fee for card activation and an annual fee for card lease.
The defendant, the Competition Council, investigated the plaintiff’s advertisements and concluded that the consumer (willing to watch more than 50 TV channels freely for a year) in any case had to incur additional costs, which were not related to responding to the commercial practice and collecting or paying for delivery of the item or otherwise unavoidable.
Therefore, the plaintiff's statements were considered to be a blacklisted misleading commercial practice. A fine of LTL 174,600 (approx. EUR 49,886) was imposed on the plaintiff for violating the prohibition on unfair commercial practices and misleading advertising.
Conversely, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was not competent to rule on compliance with Lithuanian Law on Prohibition of Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices, due to the fact that the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority was the competent entity to assess such compliance.
Furthermore, the plaintiff held that its actions did not sufficiently impair the interests of businesses and consumers, and the fine imposed on the plaintiff was therefore not proportionate.
The plaintiff appealed to Vilnius County Administrative Court.
For the purpose of imposing a fine for a blacklisted misleading commercial practice falling under unfair competition regulations, is it necessary to prove that such practice has impaired the interests of a major part of businesses or consumers?
The court declared that a number of the plaintiff’s statements were properly considered to be misleading advertising and blacklisted misleading commercial practices.
However, the court pointed out that the fine was imposed for actions of unfair competition (one of which is the use of misleading advertising) prohibited by the Lithuanian Law on Competition. Therefore, according to this law, the defendant could enforce prohibition of unfair competition actions only where these actions impair the interests of a major part of businesses or consumers.
The court concluded that the defendant failed to prove such harm, as it did not examine the services of the plaintiff’s competitors and prices thereof. The court upheld the plaintiff's appeal in this respect.
|URL Decision||Decision full text|
The court declared the defendant’s decision invalid.
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