Frequently asked questions
Anti-competitive practices are corporate behaviours that challenge the normal functioning of a competitive market. Anti-competitive practices are divided into abusive practices and collusive practices.
The AdC was created in 2003 with the aim of promoting Competition as a public good, which is inscribed in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Collusive practices cover different behaviours pursued by companies with the clear intention of obtaining benefits to themselves in detriment of a free market, healthy competition and satisfied consumers. The most common practices include agreements between companies (such as cartels) to reduce or eliminate competition.
The AdC’s main attributions are ensuring the enforcement and the promotion of competition between companies within the private, public, cooperative and social sectors, in due respect with the principles of market economy and free competition, for the efficient operation of markets, the optimal allocation of resources and the protection of consumer interest.
The AdC’s activity is monitored through SCORE – Objectives and Results Control System. SCORE consists of a coherent system of efficiency, effectiveness and quality indicators. These indicators reflect the activities carried out and the results obtained, guided by strategic and operational objectives.
The three main strategic objectives currently defined are:
- Defending competition in the Portuguese economy (enforcement);
- Promoting competition in the Portuguese economy (advocacy);
- Enhancing the international role of AdC.
For more information on AdC's objectives and results control system, access the 2021 Activity Plan [in Portuguese]
The abuse of a dominant position is an anti-competitive practice that takes place through the unlawful use by a company (or by a group of companies, if it is a collective dominant position) of the significant economic power it holds in a specific market. This practice gives a particular company the ability to exploit consumers or other companies or to exclude potential competitors.
The amount of the fines is determined by taking into account criteria such as:
- The seriousness of the infringement in terms of its effect on competition in the domestic market;
- The nature and size of the market affected by the infringement;
- The duration of the infringement;
- The degree of involvement in the infringement by the party concerned in the case;
- The advantages gained by the party concerned in the case in the prohibited practices stemming from the infringement, when such advantages can be identified;
- The behaviour of the party concerned in the case in the process of eliminating the prohibited practices and repairing the damage caused to competition;
- The economic situation of the company or business association;
- Previous administrative offences by the party concerned in the case involving an infringement of competition rules;
- The assistance given to the Competition Authority throughout the proceedings.
The imposed fine cannot exceed 10% of the turnover of the year immediately preceding the final decision issued by the AdC for each of the undertakings concerned or, in the case of associations of undertakings, the aggregate turnover of the associated undertakings (article 69, No. 2 of Law No. 19/2012).
The imposed fine for natural persons cannot exceed 10% of their annual income deriving from the exercise of their functions in the undertaking concerned, in the last full year when the prohibited practice occurred (article 69, no. 4 of Law 19/2012).
For more information on the methodology used in applying fines, access the Guidelines on the Methodology to be Used in the Application of Fines under Article 69, paragraph 8, of Law no. 19/2012, of 8 May.
The Portuguese Competition Act provides for the interaction with sector regulators whenever the AdC takes decisions, whether concerning anti-competitive practices or merger control, relating to companies operating in regulated sectors.
The AdC is competent whenever the application of the rules for the promotion and defence of competition is at stake. Thus, it is not the competence of the Portuguese Competition Authority to directly solve consumer disputes, whether resulting from decisions by companies or the sales conditions agreed between them and consumers, or from issues relating to after-sales services, invoicing or payment.
In these cases, you may solve a dispute by contacting the relevant entity:
AMT - Mobility and Transport Authority
ANAC - The Civil Aviation National Authority
ANACOM - The Communications Authority
APA - Portuguese Environment Agency
ASAE – Authority for Food and Economic Safety
ASF - Supervisory Authority for insurance and pension funds
BdP – Bank of Portugal
CMVM – Securities Market Commission
DGC – Directorate-General for Consumers
DGEG – Directorate General of Energy and Geology
ERC – Regulatory Authority for the Media
ERS – Health Regulatory Authority
ERSAR - Regulatory Authority for Water and Waste
ERSE – Energy Services Regulatory Entity
IGF – Inspectorate General of Finance
IMPIC -Institute of Public Markets, Real Estate and Construction
Ministry of Economy
Public Prosecutor's Office
Court of Auditors
In consumers' relationships with suppliers of goods or service providers, issues raised are sometimes related to billing errors, breaches of contractual obligations, different interpretations of the scope and duration of contracts or compensation due to breaches of contracts, among others.
Complaints may be lodged on issues arising exclusively from the contractual relationship established between a consumer and the respective supplier of goods or services:
- With the sector regulators responsible for the markets at stake;
- With the DGC — Directorate-General for Consumers or CNIACC — Arbitration Centre for Consumer Disputes:
- Directly with the Courts.