In July 2017 the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency initiated proceedings against Renault (which operates as RENAULT NISSAN SLOVENIJA doo). The company was suspected of treating authorised mechanics and independent mechanics differently, which gave the agency grounds to believe that Renault had abused its dominant position (for further details please see "Automotive industry again under scrutiny by Competition Protection Agency"). In response, Renault proposed remedies in an attempt to address the agency's concerns and eliminate the alleged anti-competitive effects on the market. In November 2017 the agency published Renault's proposed commitments online and invited third parties to comment and make suggestions.
On 30 May 2018 the agency issued a decision closing the proceedings and accepting the commitments.
In short, Renault has agreed to accept certain commitments based on which authorised and independent mechanics will be treated equally (ie, have access to technical information and training under the same conditions).
Renault has agreed to adopt, amend and publish internal acts, including information on how to provide mechanics with access to technical information, teaching materials, technical training and pre-training.
Further, Renault will provide independent mechanics with all of the technical information which they need in order to perform a quality repair and maintenance of Renault vehicles. Access to this technical information must not be conditional on participation in the technical training. In addition, Renault must prepare free training and education on the use of Renault InfoTech portal (2) annually.
In connection with the pre-education and training, Renault has committed itself to inform mechanics on envisaged dates and content of pre-training and training. Renault will also publish instructions on how to apply to individual training, whereby the price for training must be the same for all mechanics (ie, authorised and independent) and should not depend on the number of participants. Further, Renault will organise technical training under the same conditions for all mechanics. The independent mechanics must have a chance to participate in free pre-training as well.
Further, Renault must enable access to teaching materials to all mechanics under the same conditions.
The addressee must comply with the decision and implement the commitments within two months of receipt. The commitments will remain in force for three years from the date on which the decision was issued.
As in the case of Hyundai Auto Trade (for details please see "Competition Protection Agency adopts commitments for Hyundai Auto Trade"), it seems that the agency has taken the position that the adopted commitments will suffice in order to enhance competition between authorised and independent mechanics.
The commitments will also help the agency to monitor Renault's behaviour by obliging Renault to report on its compliance annually and provide information on the training it has performed on the agency's request. Moreover, during the commitments period, documents such as internal acts and price lists for technical training should be sent to the agency for review.
The adoption of a commitments decision means that no violation of competition rules has been established. However, the proceeding may be re-opened if Renault does not comply with its commitments. In this case, the company may be fined up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover for non-compliance.
By Ursa Kranjc, Associate Schoenherr