The Competition Act regulates competition in Austria.
The Act on the Improvement of Local Supply and Market Conditions (Local Supply Act) is intended to safeguard competitive conditions and local supply for Austrian citizens.
In addition to prohibiting cartels, the Cartel Act also stipulates that market-leading companies must not abuse their position. It also includes restrictions on corporate mergers that involve companies whose annual turnover exceeds certain threshold values. The Cartel Act also details penalties for violations as well as the procedure for cases to be decided by the Cartel Court and the Supreme Cartel Court.
The Act against Unfair Competition also contains detailed competition regulations (e.g. for misleading business practices).
National competition authorities
The Federal Competition Authority is a consultative body charged with investigating and dealing with suspected or impending anti-competitive practices and violations of fair competition. It is also in charge of implementing the European competition regulations in Austria and handles notifications of company mergers as well as complaints regarding breaches of the law on competition.
Strict provisions govern company mergers
Parties affected by violations of the law on competition can direct complaints to the Austrian Federal Competition Authority.
The Cartel Court can be requested to take action where violations of the law on competition have occurred. Cartel Court cases (to end/investigate an infringement or to impose fines/penalty payments) are adjudicated in non-contentious proceedings. For further information, click the following link:
Competing companies that are affected by violations of the law on competition can petition for a restraining injunction.
Alternatively, complaints can be filed via the relevant representative body (e.g. a professional group of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, a federation of trade unions or the Chamber of Labour).
If a violation of the law on competition has also affected a company’s interests in another EU Member State, a complaint can be filed with the authorities responsible for protecting consumer interests in the respective country.
Useful information for people living and working in Austria is available from HELP, the Austrian government help service or the Business Service Portal USP.
A leniency programme is in operation under the Austrian law on competition, as is the case in other EU states.
Companies that voluntarily provide unrestricted access to information on a cartel may have the penalties they otherwise would have received fully or partially waived. The leniency handbook contains further information: