AdC fines National Association of Land Surveyors

​Press Release 02/2021
AdC fines National Association of Land Surveyors
 
The AdC’s decision
 
The AdC sanctioned the National Association of Land Surveyors (ANT, in Portuguese) with a fine of €50,000 for restricting competition in the market of land surveying services, by fixing prices for these services.
Within a settlement procedure, the ANT benefited from a reduction in the fine for admitting the practice, collaborating with the AdC and abdicating judicial litigation.
The AdC’s investigation revealed that from November 2003, the ANT approved and published, on its website, a fee table designed to standardize the prices of services provided by its members. Such a practice infringes competition rules by preventing each member from autonomously defining their own commercial variables.
The fee table established the value of remunerations and other values to be charged by land surveyors in the exercise of their activity. In particular, the table segmented prices according to the scale used in the topographic work and the area associated to the surveyors’ activities. Moreover, it stipulated fixed hourly wages and minimum unit wages.
The case was opened in May 2020, based on a complaint received by the AdC.
Competition Law forbids business associations to adopt decisions and price recommendations that restrict competition, in all or in part of the domestic market, insofar as they influence members’ autonomous commercial policy. Each company must independently determine its commercial variables, thus generating greater competitive dynamics in the market.
The infringement of competition rules not only reduces the well-being of consumers, but also undermines the competitiveness of companies, harming the economy as a whole.

The settlement procedure

The AdC concluded the case in advance due to the collaboration of the ANT, which entered a settlement procedure. The ANT thus admitted to having approved and disclosed the referred fee list and waived its right to continue judicial proceedings.
Such procedure is important for the case’s management, given the potential to simplify and accelerate proceedings, while maintaining sanctions.
In the settlement procedure, companies admit to the facts and acknowledge responsibility for the infringements; in return they benefit from a fine reduction and a speedier case resolution.

Decisions by business associations

The ANT has 729 associates which carry out activities in civil construction and public works, among other sectors, throughout the Portuguese territory.
Among the AdC's priorities for 2020 was the advocacy for competition rules within business associations. In this context, the Guide for Business Associations - With Competition Everybody Wins, published by AdC, aims to make business associations and their associates aware of decisions or behavior to avoided, in order comply with competition rules.
Business associations play a fundamental role in representing, defending, promoting and supporting firms. However, business associations and their members must be aware of decisions or behavior that may constitute an infringement of Competition Law.
Business associations are particularly vulnerable to breaches of competition rules when they bring together all or a large part of the competitors in a given sector of activity. Decisions by business associations that alter the free functioning of the market whether by promoting or facilitating the standardization of members’ behavior, may infringe Competition Law.
March 11, 2021.