Danish car dealer association goes through red light to boycott digital platform

The Danish Competition Council (“the DCC”) has in a recent decision found that the Danish Peugeot Dealers Association violated Section 6 of the Danish Competition Act and Section 101(1) of the TFEU by committing to a collective boycott of the Danish platform for advertising and selling cars, Bilbasen.dk. The object of this collective boycott was to promote the competing digital advertising and car sales platform, Biltorvet.dk.

In April 2018, a dawn raid revealed email correspondence and documents exchanged between individual Peugeot brand car dealers and board members of the Danish Peugeot Dealers Association. The evidence gathered revealed that the independent car dealers, who were all members of the Danish Peugeot Dealers Association, were instructed to refrain from advertising on Bilbasen.dk and to advertise only on Biltorvet.dk, leading to a collective boycott of Bilbasen. ns.

The DCC concluded that there was a collective boycott in this case because this agreement constituted an agreement between a group of competitors to exclude an actual or potential competitor from a relevant market by not purchasing that competitor’s services. The breaches were found to have taken place between late 2012 and at least August 2014.

The DCC determined that the affected car dealers entered into the agreement to limit competition in the Danish market for digital marketplaces for advertising and selling cars. Therefore, a “by object” violation of the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements.

The DCC also found that the decision within the Danish Association of Peugeot Dealers did not produce pro-competitive effects and that the conditions for an exemption under Article 8(1) of the Danish competition and Article 101(3) TFEU were not fulfilled. filled.

Therefore, this recent decision clearly demonstrates that trade associations must remain focused on compliance with competition law whenever commercial matters are discussed among their members.

It should also be noted that, to the extent that digital platforms, among others, provide businesses and consumers with a better opportunity to find each other and negotiate in new ways, they both provide consumers with better access to compare prices and products from different sellers and increase competition between firms. It was therefore found that the collective boycott had both a detrimental effect on consumers (potential buyers of cars on Bilbasen.dk) and on car sellers (advertising on Bilbasen.dk).

The DCC reported the Danish Peugeot Dealers Association to the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crimes (now Special Crime Unit) with the aim of fining the Danish Peugeot Dealers Association for this offence.