The Lisbon Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the Competition Authority which found the OTOC (Professional Association of Chartered Accountants) guilty of a decision by an association of undertakings restricting competition, with an impact on the market for mandatory training of chartered accountants.
The judgment of the Court of Appeal, dated 7 January 2014, confirms that through the approval and application of a regulation for remunerated mandatory continued training for chartered accountants, the OTOC was in breach of Portuguese and European competition law.
This decision appeared in the wake of the judgment rendered by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) which, on 28 February 2013, also confirmed the Competition Authority’s interpretation.
According to the ECJ, a regulation such as that created by the OTOC constitutes a restriction of competition prohibited by Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The Lisbon Commercial Court had also upheld the decision regarding the OTOC in the first instance, setting a fine of 90,000 euros and declaring null and void the provisions of the Training Credits Regulation that infringe competition rules.
The OTOC appealed against this judgment to the Lisbon Court of Appeal and asked for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of European Union law to be raised with the ECJ.
In May 2010, the Competition Authority ordered the OTOC to pay a fine of 229,300 euros for having approved and applied a regulation for mandatory remunerated continued training of chartered accountants, the Training Credits Regulation.
Through this Regulation, the OTOC artificially segmented the training market, reserving an exclusive right to provide one third of mandatory training and stipulated its own criteria for the admission of other training agencies and for the approval of their training sessions.
14 January 2014