Schoenherr Slovenia Partner Eva Skufca says Slovenia currently has two major issues on its Competition agenda.
The first relates to the European Union’s Anti-Trust Damages Action Directive (Directive 2014/104/WU on Antitrust Damages Actions, which was signed into law on November 26, 2014 and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on December 5, 2014), which is required to be implemented into member states’ legal systems by December 27, 2016. The Directive is designed to remove many of the obstacles victims of anti-competitive behavior face in bringing their claims in court and to "fine-tune the interplay between private damages actions and public enforcement of the EU antitrust rules by the Commission and national competition authorities." Unfortunately, Skufca reports, "not all states have taken it seriously enough," and in Slovenia, she says, the country’s attempt to implement the Directive remains stuck in the inter-ministerial process — only now being debated and considered despite the looming deadline for its implementation. Skufca describes this as representing a lost opportunity to open it to public debate, and to promote the bill to ensure victims — current and future — are aware of their expanded rights, explaining that “because this is a very promising enforcement tool, it’s important to have a good debate on it now."
Skufca says case law on anti-trust violations is scarce in Slovenia, giving infringers little to fear, and making it "much more difficult for victims to bring claims to court to achieve damages.” As a result, she believes the new law — despite its unfortunate process — is "a huge opportunity — I actually really do." She explains that "private enforcement needs to be into the mind-set of people … but of course it’s also important to craft a reasonable balance in creating the law itself."
The second major Competition-related matter in the country at the moment, Skufca reports, is the recent decision by the country’s Constitutional Court regarding the alleged violation of the rights of investors in five major Slovenian banks when both their equity capital and the subordinated instruments were written off as a result of extraordinary measures exercised by the Bank of Slovenia during the financial crisis. The Court’s ruling in this matter, Skufca says, requires the respective legislation on legal remedies to be amended, however in substance enshrines the EU state aid principles. [For an expanded view of this subject, please see the Slovenian article in the Experts Review section of the December 2016 issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine].
Finally, Skufca says, "all of us lawyers as well as the general public are closely following everything that concerns both public entities in charge of managing state assets" – the Slovenian Sovereign holding, which is still missing two members of the Management Board, and the Bank Assets Management Company (Slovenia's "bad bank"). Skufca says there’s currently a public call for applications for the Management Board vacancies, and says, "it will be interesting to see who is elected, and how this will shape the future dynamics and strategies of the Holding. There are still a couple of important privatization processes that need to be carried out and the Holding requires a skilled and stable management to be able to carry out its responsibilities."