After conducting a consultation procedure and incorporating the comments received, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) has published its Leniency Guideline.
The aim of this guideline is to set out the AFCA's practice in implementing the Leniency Program in the interests of maximum transparency. Furthermore, the goal is to summarise the various aspects relevant to (potential) leniency applicants in a single document as well as in a concise and clear manner.
Since the implementation of Directive 2019/1/EU (ECN+ Directive), a AFCA manual for the technical processing and fine reduction aspect has been mandatory. This comes into play when the AFCA intends to apply for a reduced fine with regard to the order of the requesting traders or traders' associations. The AFCA has published a paper on this at the end of January 2022. (See the AFCA's press release of 27 January 2022).
However, due to the importance of the Leniency Program as an essential instrument of Cartel Law enforcement, the AFCA considers it appropriate to provide companies and their legal representatives with comprehensive information - as it has done in the past - in order to ensure its continued functioning.
The Leniency Guideline provides information on:
- the general leniency application requirements,
- the specific requirements both for immunity from fines and for applying for a reduced fine,
- the procedure to be followed during a leniency application,
- the privileging of employees of leniency companies in criminal prosecutions,
- the privileging of leniency or leniency applications in damages proceedings, and the AFCA's handling of leniency statements.