Malta: Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
Malta
Abstract Shape Background
Malta: Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority

Malta: Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority

Malta

Malta: from the enforcer

Address: Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda HMR9010, Malta
Tel: +356 2395 2000
Email: [email protected]
Web: mccaa.org.mt

Contacts

Godwin Mangion
Director General
Email: [email protected]

Aloysius Bianchi
Director (Inspectorate and Cartel Investigations)
Email: [email protected]

Gilmour Camilleri
Director (Communications, Energy, Transport and Financial Markets)
Email: [email protected]

Overview

The Office for Competition is one of four entities that forms part of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA). There is a board of governors, which is primarily concerned with policy-making, while enforcement of applicable laws is vested solely in the director general who heads each entity. The four entities are: the Office for Competition; the Office for Consumer Affairs; the Technical Regulation Division; and the Standards and Metrology Institute.

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

The appointment is for three years.

When is he or she due for reappointment?

The Director General will be reappointed in 2020.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

There are no political appointments within the Office for Competition.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

The MCCAA’s annual budget is €7.12 million. There is no specific budget for the Competition Office.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

There are nine full-time professional officers employed at the Office and one support staff. An external consultant specialising in economics is also employed with the Office.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

The Director General of the Office for Competition reports to the board of governors. However, the Director General is independent and autonomous in its investigations, enforcement and decision-making.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

No.

If so, how do these relate to your role?

Not applicable.

Do politicians have any right to overrule or disregard the decisions of the authority?

No.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when taking decisions?

No.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this?

As a result of amendments introduced in 2019, where, following an investigation, the Director General considers that an infringement of national competition law and, or an infringement of articles 101 and, or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union may have occurred, the Director General shall institute proceedings before the Civil Court (Commercial Section).

The Director General and any party to the proceedings before the Civil Court (Commercial Section), who feel aggrieved by a judgment of the said Court may appeal on points of law and, or of fact before the Court of Appeal.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger?

No. However, in 2017 following a thorough investigation, the Office issued a Statement of Objections wherein it expressed serious competition concerns on a particular concentration. The Office concluded that the commitments proposed by the parties did not sufficiently address its competition concerns and the notifying parties chose to withdraw the notification and abandon the concentration a few days before a final decision was issued.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger?

Yes.

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings?

Yes.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence?

No.

Do you operate a leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact?

No. However, a leniency programme will be introduced as a result of the transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the member states to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, into Maltese law.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it?

No.

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

Yes.  Maltese competition law will be amended as a result of the transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the member states to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market.

When did the last review of the law occur?

In 2019, radical changes where implemented to the Competition Act that became necessary following landmark Constitutional Court judgments that dated back to 2016.

On 3 May 2016, the Constitutional Court concluded that the competition law proceedings leading to the imposition of a fine were of a criminal nature. These judgments confirmed that only courts, and not any other adjudicating body, including a tribunal, could determine cases of a criminal nature. This is because the Constitution of Malta requires that the entire procedure determining a criminal charge should be brought before a court.

In view of the above, in 2019, amendments to the Competition Act were introduced to address the above Constitutional issues. As a result, the Office no longer issues decisions finding an infringement and impose a penalty but institutes proceedings before the Civil Court (Commercial Section) for alleged infringements of Competition law.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so please give details.

Four economists are employed on a full-time basis with the Office, but they do not form part of a separate team.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it?

No.

Has the authority conducted a dawn raid?

No.

Has the authority imposed penalties on officers or directors of companies for offences committed by the company?

No.

What are the pre-merger notification thresholds, if any, for the buyer and seller involved in a merger?

The threshold is €2.3 million and each of the undertakings concerned had a turnover in Malta equivalent to at least 10 per cent of the combined aggregate turnover of the undertakings concerned.

Are there any restrictions on minority investments?

No.

Does the country have an immunity and leniency programme? What discounts are available to companies that cooperate with cartel investigations?

Currently, the Office does not have an Immunity and leniency programme. However, on this topic see replies already provided. It is envisaged that once the leniency programme becomes law, a company can either benefit from total immunity from penalties or from a reduction of penalties.

As to the levels of reduction it is envisaged that:

  • for the first undertaking to provide significant added value, a reduction of thirty to fifty per centum (30-50 per cent);
  • for the second undertaking to provide significant added value, a reduction of twenty to thirty per centum (20-30 per cent);
  • for subsequent undertakings that provide significant added value, a reduction of up to twenty per centum (20 per cent):

Provided that in specific cases in which the added value of the  information or evidence submitted by an applicant is extraordinarily high, the Director General may, at his discretion, request the Court to impose a penalty which is reduced by a higher percentage than the ranges specified above.

Does the authority conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity? If not, is there another authority in the country that does?

No.


Malta: from the enforcer's competition economists

Address: Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda HMR9010, Malta
Tel: +356 2395 2000
Web: mccaa.org.mt

Contacts

Godwin Mangion
Director General (Competition)
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How many economists do you employ?

The Office for Competition employs four economists.

Do you have a separate economics unit, or ‘bureau’?

No.

Do you have a chief economist?

Yes.

To whom does the chief economist report?

The chief economist reports to the director general who has the responsibility for the overall functions of the Office for Competition.

Does the chief economist have the power to hire his or her own staff?

No.

How many economists have a PhD in industrial economics?

None of the economists have a PhD in industrial economics.

Does the agency include a specialist economist on every case team? If not, why not?

Usually, an economist is included in each case team.

How much economics work is outsourced? What type of work is outsourced? The economics work that is outsourced depends on the workload and the complexity of the cases and concentrations being investigated and analysed by the Office for Competition.

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