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25 March 2020

COVID-19 outbreak in Ukraine: impact on competition law enforcement

The COVID-19 outbreak has influenced the work of the Ukraine’s competition authority, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (the AMC). The repercussions are not too drastic though, at least to date. We would like to share with you a short summary of what’s happening in the AMC and how it affects competition law enforcement.

Merger control

The AMC’s merger control departments work at full pace, accepting merger filings, staying in touch over the phone and via emails to ask questions and request additional information, and clearing transactions within the time limits prescribed by law. While many officers work remotely, the AMC does not lose grip on substantive analysis during these turbulent times, maintaining the usual level of scrutiny. No request to postpone filings had been conveyed to the public. Although applicants are encouraged to provide electronic copies of all data via emails, filings are still required to be made in hard copies during normal working hours. At the last meeting of the State Commissioners, six mergers were cleared. New filings made by our firm within the last week are being processed in due course.

Cartel and abuse of dominance investigations

While some investigations launched previously appear to be moving slowly, certain undertakings appear to become top priorities for the AMC: this includes raising prices for certain goods of vital importance to the level that would be impossible in case of significant competition on the market. The Government and the public often bring such facts to the attention of the AMC and the reaction is usually quick. While many agencies do not fancy the prospect of being price regulators, in times of plenty, the AMC has already turned its attention to prices for alimentary goods in supermarkets and airline tickets.

State aid and public procurement

While the state aid review regime has not been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19, which may be explained by its lesser effectiveness in Ukraine, review of public procurement claims, dozens of which are being considered by the AMC daily, had already sustained certain restrictions. In line with Cabinet of Ministers decisions, on 17 March 2020, the AMC announced that no third party representatives will be admitted to hearings and, to compensate, a live video of hearings will be offered. Another measure designed to protect people is to limit the number of individuals participating in any AMC meeting or hearing to ten.

As of today, no significant disruptions or delays by the AMC have been noticed, but the situation may, of course, change in the future as the Government is considering further quarantine measures. Acting to the utmost benefit of our clients, we are and will be in constant touch with the AMC in order to keep you informed on any developments.

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