HUNGARIAN VETERINARY CHAMBER-AGREEMENT
The Office of Economic Competition launched a procedure against the Hungarian Veterinary Chamber to reveal whether some points of its Ethical Code are against the Competition Act or not. The prohibition of advertising activity, obligatory application of minimal prices as well as universal application of payment of date under the Ethical Code were considered by the Competition Council as anti-competitive which violated the prohibition of restriction of competition.
Although the Hungarian Veterinary Chamber set up these stipulations of the Ethical Code, which serve the interest of consumers, the Competition Council has not fund any ground of its defence.
Advertising activities by vets are not prohibits under either the Advertising Act or the Competition Act. In the view of the Competition Council (1) the prohibition of the Ethical Code deprives vets to improve their market position by legally applied medium of advertising, and (2) the binding minimal price hinders the market entry and preserves the given relationship among competitors. The binding price cannot be a real condition of the qualified service but recommended price is acceptable to inform consumers and servicing undertakings. In cases when servicing undertakings perform lower price than the recommended price by a poorer quality, the Chamber may impose sanctions for quality imperfections. Finally, the Ethical Code (3) limited the members` market activities in gathering new customers by stipulating universal payment of date.
The Competition Council ordered to terminate the restrictive conditions of the Hungarian Veterinary Chamber within 30 days and imposed a fine, amounting to HUF one million (about Euro 4000) on it.