The latest amendments to the Law on Competition in Lithuania provide companies with a possibility to choose from two options for paying fines imposed by the Lithuanian Competition Council (Competition Council).
According to the previous procedure, an undertaking sanctioned by the Competition Council was obliged to pay the fine within the period of 3 months starting from the date of publication of the respective resolution of the Competition Council (Resolution). Payment of the respective fine was mandatory irrespective of the undertaking’s appeal against the Resolution to the court. Only in the cases when the court overruled the respective Resolution the undertakings were able to claim back the fines paid, often after several years of litigation.
Now the undertaking concerned has two options: a) to pay the fine imposed (within the same period of 3 months) and to appeal against the Resolution to the court or b) to decide not to pay the fine and appeal against the Resolution to the court.
If the undertaking decides not to pay the fine, but by final decision of the court is declared guilty of infringing the respective competition laws, annual interest at a rate of 6% will accrue throughout the duration of the legal proceedings.
These new amendments to the Law on Competition provide the undertakings with a possibility of evaluating two important aspects: a) the real chances of success in court proceedings against the Competition Council vs. possible additional losses in terms of interest payments, and b) the actual need for retaining money within the company during a lengthy period of court proceedings vs. possible additional losses in terms of interest payments.