Private enforcement of competition law on the increase in Portugal
Private enforcement is a growing trend in competition law, while it is also anticipated that there will be an increase in public procurement cartel cases in Portugal, according to SRS partner Gonçalo Anastácio.
“The increase in enforcement action by the AdC is causing corporates to be more cautious about competition issues, and to demand audits and other preventative advice,” says Anastácio. In addition to this, the market has seen “more merger control” as a result of economic growth, he adds. “This, combined with several high-profile state-aid cases is creating greater demand for competition legal services,” Anastácio says. He adds that, due to “government passiveness”, Portugal was the last country in the EU to implement The European Directive on Private Damages, but Anastácio also says that private enforcement is already increasing. “This is another factor generating growth for competition law practices,” he remarks.
Anastácio believes that law firms will be particularly active advising companies in the electricity sector. “Some of the most interesting opportunities for competition lawyers in Portugal are in electricity, a sector which has only recently begun to see sanctions being imposed,” he explains. Certain issues such as dual pricing and information exchange will also generate work, as they pose significant challenges for clients. He adds that the legal framework for “parallel trade and information exchange is far from clear in practice, despite some effort by the authorities”.
In addition, Anastácio says Portuguese jurisprudence on competition law applying to consortia is outdated. “This is another difficulty our clients face,” he adds.