Yesterday, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) and the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) organised at the House of the Estates an expert seminar presenting the report on extending personal criminal responsibility to cartels, required by the Government Programme. The report can be used in the future to estimate the need for personal responsibility and its suitability for the Finnish competition and criminal system.
The objective of the report project initiated in June 2013 was to outline potential needs for legislative change in Finland and to estimate the appropriateness of potential modernisations, the possibility of implementing the change and the potential effects. Within the project, two partial reports commissioned by the FCCA were completed to analyse the prerequisites for the criminalisation of cartels from the national and international point of view, the potential for implementation, the benefits and the adverse effects of criminalisation.
The authors of the partial reports, Professor Peter Whelan from the University of Leeds and Professor Raimo Lahti and post-graduate student and LL.M. Ville Hiltunen from the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki gave their presentations on this topic during the seminar. Other guests included Director General Pekka Timonen of the MEE Labour and Trade Department and Director General of the FCCA Juhani Jokinen. A panel discussion was organised at the end of the event with the participation of the representatives of the Helsinki District Court and the Directors’ Institute of Finland.
Professor Whelan’s report examines the basis for personal criminal responsibility related to the criminalisation of cartels from the point of view of the European competition law. The report made at the University of Helsinki deals with the purposefulness, the feasibility and the prerequisites of the subject from the aspect of the Finnish national administrative and criminal judicial system.
Criminal Responsibility does not Exist in the Current Competition Law
Personal criminal responsibility does not exist in our current national competition legislation. However, several benefits have been associated with criminalisation at the international level, and personal criminal responsibility has been increasingly extended to cartels in several European countries. On the other hand, there are challenges related to criminalisation, such as ensuring the functionality of the leniency system. In some countries, a different type of solution has been chosen instead of criminalisation. For instance, Sweden has chosen a ban on business activities.
“These two reports present both the basis for the justification of criminalising cartels and the justified need to do so from the aspect of the judicial system in matters related to competition,” Director General Pekka Timonen stated in the conclusion of the seminar. At the same time, Timonen feels that it has become clear that criminalisation cannot be implemented without endangering the efficiency of the leniency system. In his opinion, there could also be grounds for implementing a business prohibition. For this reason, MEE will ask the Ministry of Justice to estimate whether it is feasible to safeguard the functionality of the leniency system and the scope of the business prohibition when preparing the next Government Programme.