The Competition Act governs competition policy in Norway. The Norwegian Competition Authority deals with the practical implementation of competition policy.
The Price Policy Act is a special law for general price regulation where there is a risk of abnormal changes in price levels.
The Competition Act contains the following prohibitions covering the behaviour of enterprises and/or people acting on behalf of an enterprise:
- Cooperation that restricts competition
- Improper exploitation of a dominant position
The Competition Act prohibits cooperation between companies with the intention or effect of restricting competition. The companies themselves must ensure that their behaviour complies with the rules. The Competition Act does not allow any exceptions to the rules. Any breach of these provisions is punishable with a violation charge, fine or imprisonment, depending on the provision that has been violated.
Examples of violations:
- Price collusion where competitors agree what prices to charge.
- Tender cooperation where competitors coordinate prices and terms and conditions before submitting a bid or proposal.
- Market segmentation, where competitors agree to share customers or areas between them, set quotas or agree to specialise in different products.
Exploitation of a dominant position
The Competition Act states that the improper exploitation of a dominant position by one of more companies is prohibited. Companies that have a dominant position in a market may not restrict competition by imposing terms and conditions or acting in ways that exclude competitors or make it harder for new players to establish themselves.
Other types of unfair competition
When the Norwegian Competition Authority sets out to assess the effects on competition of a given activity or concentration of companies, its inspection is based on conditions in the market(s) concerned. This is referred to as identifying the relevant market, and is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The Price Policy Act is a special law for general price regulation where there is a risk of abnormal changes in price levels. When there is a need to promote socially acceptable pricing, the competition authorities can take steps to define maximum and minimum prices, price freezes, price calculations, discounts, maximum down-payments, delivery and payment terms and other provisions on prices, profits and terms of business.
The Act also empowers the competition authorities to impose reporting requirements on economic operators for certain goods and services.
- Reports of anti-competitive partnerships should be sent to the Norwegian Competition Authority.
Public-sector customers are subject to a number of obligations. If a supplier feels unfairly treated in the sense of discrimination or violation of the case-handling rules, they can complain in Norway to:
The Norwegian Complaints Board for Public Procurement (KOFA), which is an alternative means of dispute resolution to the ordinary courts.
There is a separate regulation containing complaints procedures for suppliers.
The Consumer Council is an interest group representing all consumers of goods and services in Norway, and operates in the following areas:
- The Consumer Council draws up consumer policy proposals to ensure that authorities and industry offer consumers better conditions.
- The Consumer Council also provides information which both enables consumers to look after themselves and also plays an important opinion-forming role.
- The Consumer Council helps consumers with complaints and information on purchases.
National competition authorities
The main function of the Norwegian Competition Authority is to apply the Competition Act.
Strict provisions govern company mergers
Reporting a concentration
Businesses and other economic operators must report any mergers, acquisitions or agreements that give them control of other companies. The Competition Act uses the term 'concentrations'. It is forbidden to create a concentration before the Norwegian Competition Authority has been notified and has examined the case.
The Norwegian Competition Authority can take action against unlawful cooperation or abuse of a dominant position by demanding an end to the unlawful behaviour. An order to desist may cover any measures needed to put a stop to the violation.