AdC investigates price fixing in condominium management and administration services
Press release 09/2023
September 11, 2023
The Portuguese Competition Authority (AdC) is investigating an anti-competitive practice carried out by a business association in fixing the minimum prices to be charged by companies of condominium management and administration services.
In January 2023, the AdC opened an investigation into this practice and, in February of the same year, carried out unannounced inspections at the headquarters of the business association.
This investigation revealed indicia that the business association in question had, in a regular and generalised way, set and imposed minimum prices on associated companies for the provision of condominium management and administration services, at least between 2015 and 2023.
In particular, the indicia revealed that the inflationary context seen recently in Portugal has been used to justify a coordinated price increase for these services.
The AdC issued a Statement of Objections, formally informing, in writing, the association of the objections raised against it.
The Statement of Objections
Whenever, based on the investigations carried out, the AdC concludes that there is a reasonable possibility that a final decision finding an infringement will be adopted, it issues a Statement of Objections.
With the issuance of the Statement of Objections, on August 23, 2023, the case identified as PRC 2023/1 is now public, pursuant to article 32 of the Competition Law.
On the notification of the Statement of Objections, the AdC sets a reasonable period of time for the company, or, in this case, the business association, to put forward its reply regarding any issues that may be relevant to the decision of the case, the evidence produced or the sanctions it may incur.
Once the investigation is concluded, the AdC adopts a final decision.
The practice in question is the fixing by a business association of the minimum prices to be charged by member companies, in this case, fees for the provision of condominium management and administration services.
Business associations must refrain from fixing the prices that their members charge for providing services, as this is contrary to the Competition Law and harmful to consumers.
Faced with a final sanctioning decision of anti-competitive practices, the business association may be fined in up to 10% of the total aggregate turnover of its member companies.