Complaints relating to insurers and car repairs

The Competition Authority is at present analysing various complaints relating to agreements between certain insurance companies and vehicle repair garages to ascertain whether the behaviour in question reflects restrictions on competition under Article 4 (1) (agreements and concerted practices) and/or Article 6 (1) (abuse of a dominant position) of the Competition Act ( (Law No. 18/2003 of 11 June).

It is also analysing a number of complaints relating to the possible abuse of a dominant position (Article 6 (1) of the Competition Act) by certain roadside assistance companies, by virtue of their alleged unilateral imposition of prices for the services of towing and breakdown companies.

The Competition Authority stresses the fact that it has monitored these complaints, though they have never given rise to proceedings, which would have been the case in the event of clear evidence of a breach of the competition rules. Though the Authority was in the process of concluding its analysis of the complaints in question, it cannot fail to take note, for the purpose, of new information that has recently emerged and, in particular, the facts carried in the media this week: they report the signing of a protocol between ANECRA (National Association of Automobile Trading and Repair Companies) and the insurers of the Caixa Geral de Depósitos Group, in which a set of good practices is defined, including that of respecting the insurers' choice of garage.

It is incumbent upon the Authority, on its own initiative, to ascertain the truth of the new information mentioned in the paragraph above, which, if confirmed, justifies an analysis of the repercussions on the matter of fact on which the complaints are grounded. For this reason, the Competition Authority has forwarded a request for new items of information to the complainant ANECRA.

Once the Authority has completed the steps that, in the light of the new information, it deems relevant to embark upon in this phase and as soon as, in consequence, it proceeds to the final analysis of the complaints in question, it will inform the complainants of the conclusions drawn. In that, as stated, enquiries are still being carried out, the Authority considers the formulation of further considerations on this question inopportune.

(Nº: 8/2009)