Court annuls Competition Commission’s 9,5 million euro fine against FIAT

The Athens Administrative Court of Appeals by judgment no. 458/2011 annulled fining decision no. 437/V/2009 of the Hellenic Competition Commission against FIAT (see news item on 14-Apr-09).

The Court took into account that: a) the distribution agreement between FIAT and the distributor did not contain any price setting obligations, on the contrary it was explicitly stated that the distributor was free to set its own prices; b) said agreement did not allow for rewards in case of complying with pricing policies or for penalties in cases of disobedience; c) there was no evidence (document, circular or announcement) of price fixing; d) the fixing of the distributor’s commission does not imply, neither evidences an agreement to fix sales prices of vehicles to consumers.

On the basis of the above, the Court found that FIAT’s intervention consisted in setting its own prices, in compiling recommended retail price lists and in creating and operating its own finance system. For this reason Fiat’s influence on retail prices was important but in a way that a manufacturer’s influence is important when one recommends retail prices, fixes prices for selling within one’s network, by analogy to the desirable retail prices and finances those sales, providing the option of subsidizing the interest. Furthermore, while the retail price lists seriously urged distributors to follow them, it was not proven that they were obligatory.