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COSTA RICA GETTING SERIOUS IN COMPETITION, ONE STEP TO BECOME AN OECD MEMBER

A new law has been passed by Congress and signed by the President of Costa Rica to strengthen the competitions authorities and to give competition a more prevalent role in the economy.  As part of the process to become a member of the OECD, a peer review of the competition system of Costa Rica was conducted.  The report of the Peer Review issued a number of recommendations that were incorporated in the bid approved by Congress.

The passing of this law should facilitate the incorporation to the OECD which should greatly improve the business environment of the country.  Once this law comes into effect doing business in Costa Rica will require a continued assessment of commercial practices of the main companies in the market.  More conducts have been added to the list of anticompetitive practices, more powers have been granted to the authorities to prevent and investigate anticompetitive conducts and higher penalties have been included to sanction them.

The main contents of the new law include the following:

  • More independence for the competition authority.
  • More economic resources to the competition authority.
  • Grant the competition authority the capacity to challenge anticompetitive laws or regulations before courts.
  • Information exchange.
  • Reduce exemptions to the competition law.
  • Full time commissioners.
  • Special proceeding for the investigation of anticompetitive conducts.
  • Pre-merger control with higher notification thresholds.
  • Special proceeding for merger control
  • Increased penalties for anticompetitive conducts.
  • Leniency program.
  • Relations between the competition authority and the telecommunications and financial regulatory agencies.
  • Down raids restated.
  • Early termination of vertical and horizontal conduct cases carried by the authority.
  • Voluntary compliance programs.

There is no doubt these amendments will rapidly change the competition landscape in the country and the way many companies conduct business in the country.

It is essential for most companies to get familiar with these amendments, to implement compliance and training programs for management, sales and marketing employees, and to take advantage of the regulations when they may be victims of anticompetitive conducts. This Law will come into effect after the publication in the official diary.

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