The Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition Upheld the Decision on the Anticompetitive Conduct of the Association of Language Schools, but the Fine Must be Recalculated

2022-11-21
Petr Mlsna, the Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter referred to as “the Office “), confirmed that Asociace jazykových škol, z. s. (the Association of Language Schools, hereinafter referred to as “the Association”) had committed anticompetitive conduct, but changed the duration of the offence, and a new first-instance decision on the amount of the fine will now have to be issued.

The Chairman of the Office was deciding on the appeal against the first-instance decision from June this year, according to which the Association, which brings together approximately 40 language schools, committed anticompetitive conduct when it set the minimum allowable price per hour of foreign language teaching intended for tenders for the provision of language education services. It published this price and claimed it from its members, and enforced it with contracting authorities. According to the Office, the conduct had a direct impact on competition in the relevant market for language training services in the Czech Republic and on the customers of those services, as it substantially restricted competition between the members of the association and/or affected the basic parameters of competition between them, and affected competition between providers of language training services.

In the second-instance decision, the Chairman Petr Mlsna corrected the timing of the offence by stating that the conduct took place between 13 October 2017 and 16 January 2020, whereas in the original decision, the date stating the beginning of the anticompetitive conduct was 21 April 2017. According to the Chairman of the Office, it was not possible to conclude without reasonable doubt from the evidence gathered that the subject of the complaint fulfilled all the conceptual elements of a prohibited decision of an association of undertakings as of April 2017, as required by the case law.

Due to the shortened duration of the offence and the insufficient justification of the method of the fine calculation, the fine imposed had to be annulled, although the second-instance body has no doubt that the offence was committed.

Press Unit of the Office for the Protection of Competition
22/0166 – R0082/2022

 

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