The total amount of the fine imposed by the GVH for price fixing, market sharing and exchange of business information on the estate agent sector has been reduced as a result of successful settlement negotiations
to the decision of the Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (Hungarian Competition
Authority – GVH), Duna House Holding Nyrt. (DHH), Otthon Centrum Holding Kft.
(OCH), Duna House Franchise Szolgáltató Kft. (DHF) and Otthon Centrum
Franchising Tanácsadó Kft. (OCF) had concerted their pricing policies and
exchanged confidential business information in the framework of their
cross-selling cooperation. The GVH considered the determination of the minimum
rates and the allocation of areas of operation for members of the franchise
network by DHF and OCH to infringe the law. The total amount of the fine
imposed for these infringements was 75.68m HUF (cca 245,000 EUR).
In the course of its investigation,
the GVH found that the two networks had entered into agreements between April
2013 and June 2014 about
a. sharing their
stock of the real estates to be sold under exclusive commission –thereby
significantly increasing the two networks’ incomes and strengthening their
b. the commission
fees (in fixed amount and in percentage) on the territory covered by the
the minimum amount and percentage of the commission payable on the seller side,
and the amount of discount to be granted under cross-selling cooperations;
exchange of certain sensitive business information – e. g. data on some of the
sales processes and the stock of commissions of DHF and OCF.
In its decision, the GVH stated that
the contracts concluded between DHF and the members of its network of real
estate agents, as well as between OCF and members of its network of real estate
agents - either through the stipulation of prohibitions or the application of
sanctions – had hindered the free determination of prices by the franchisees and
prohibited the acceptance of commissions on the territory of other franchisees,
between 2003 and 2015 in the case of DHF and between 2004 and 2015 in the case
When calculating the amount of the
fine, the GVH took into account as relevant turnover the prorated amount of
fees (according to time) that was collected through the operation of such a
The GVH also considered the fact that
the undertakings are currently significant market participants, although they
had small market share at the beginning of the infringement.
In the case in question the GVH invited
the undertakings to indicate whether they were interested in engaging in a
settlement procedure, in order to enable the proceeding to be concluded in a swift
and effective manner. The undertakings presented their settlement submissions,
in which, among other things, they voluntarily admitted the infringement;
therefore the GVH reduced the fine imposed by 30% – based on the new rules of
the Hungarian Competition Act applicable after 16 December 2016.
According to the settlement
procedure, the GVH reduces the fine to be imposed by 10-30% if the undertaking
under investigation admits the infringement on the basis of the revealed
evidence; moreover, it must also waive its rights to extensive access to files,
to make a statement, to a hearing and to seek a legal remedy. This procedure
facilitates the conclusion of the proceeding in a more rapid and less resource
intensive manner. The settlement procedure may result in significant cost
savings, not only for the competition authority but also for the undertaking.
Additionally, the 30% fine reduction can be increased if the undertaking takes
part in the leniency
programme, which may even result in a 50%
reduction of the fine. More information regarding the settlement procedure is
available here and other means of cooperation with the GVH is available here (available only in Hungarian).
Case numbers: Vj/57/2014., Vj/74/2014., Vj/75/2014.
Budapest, 10 January 2017
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