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AFCA Director General presents decrees of appointment for two new Case Departments

Case Departments A and B were set up at the beginning of 2024. Teresa Eckhard will head Case Department A, and Stefan Ruech is at the helm of Case Department B.

Teresa Eckhard and Stefan Ruech have worked in senior positions at the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) for many years. The Director General officially presented them with their decrees of appointment on 7 May 2024.

By appointing two experienced experts as heads of our new Case Departments, we are creating the basis for even more dynamic antitrust enforcement in Austria in future,” explains Director General Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch.

Case Departments A and B will be made up of lawyers and economists, whose tasks it is to conduct all types of proceedings in their specific sectors.

Case Department A

Teresa Eckhard has worked as a case handler at the AFCA since 2016. Previously, she worked at an international law firm based in Vienna. She has been part of the Litigation Department since 2018, and has deputised for the Head of the Department since 2020. Her primary areas of responsibility to date have been conducting antitrust proceedings and the supervision of large, complex cartel cases.

Case Department A is in charge of investigations, merger control, pre-notification procedures, sectoral expertise and knowledge management, as well as the preparation of cases. It primarily deals with the following sectors: energy, raw materials, tourism, environment, waste management and chemicals, transport, vehicle construction, real estate, agriculture, trade, industrial production and other services. In addition, matters relating to the Unfair Competition Act (UWG), the Fair Competitive Conditions Act (FWBG) and Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (B2B Regulation) also fall within this Case Department’s remit. Two Units dedicated to the UWG and FWBG have also been incorporated into this Department (see press release of 18 March 2024).

Case Department B

Stefan Ruech has been with the AFCA since November 2016. Prior to being appointed Head of Case Department B, he has been Deputy Head of the Legal Service Department since August 2022. Before joining the AFCA, he worked as a lawyer for an international corporate law firm in Vienna in the areas of antitrust and competition law as well as company law/M&A. His primary areas of responsibility were investigations in cartel and merger cases, general policy matters and dawn raids. He is the author of several publications and regularly attends national and international events to speak about Austrian and European antitrust and competition law.

Case Department B is also responsible for investigations, merger control, pre-notification procedures, sectoral expertise and knowledge management, as well as the preparation of cases. It mainly focuses on the following sectors: construction, information, telecommunications, media, leisure industry, entertainment and postal services, health, pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial services, consumer goods, as well as mechanical and plant engineering. This Case Department also specialises in matters relating to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), executes the powers pursuant to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation Act (ORF-G), and monitors and investigates issues pertaining to the Interchange Fee Implementation Act (IEVG).