COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a worldwide health crisis, is shaking markets all over the world including our country and disrupting the supply chains. Governments, undertakings and consumers are seeking ways to get rid of the negative effects of the COVID-19.

Turkish Competition Authority ("Authority"), which investigates entire markets in Turkey, if there are competition problems, and protect consumers from unfair trading practices one of undertakings and consumers, announced the excessive price investigation decision ("Decision") of Turkish Competition Board ("Board") on 7th of May, 2020. This Decision was initiated on 29 undertakings including chain markets, in order to determine whether they have violated the Law on the Protection of Competition No. 4054.

As will be remembered, the Authority has made warnings regarding excessive pricing and some market disruptions in the supply chain since the COVID-19 outbreak has begun. On 23rd of March, 2020, the Authority stated in its announcement that in order to protect the welfare of the consumers and to ensure effective competition conditions, it has been tracking undertakings that have been charging excessive price with an opportunistic approach during the days of the COVID-19 epidemic. Moreover, the Authority clearly underlined that it would impose the heaviest administrative fines on undertakings acting in this direction.

Therefore, in the Decision, the Board came to a conclusion that in accordance with the analysis, which took approximately one month, some of the undertakings producing and trading food and cleaning/hygiene products, might violate competition law.

It is also seen that the competition authorities of the European countries act similarly. Therefore, some competition authorities have created new units to protect consumers during the pandemic, whereas others have launched various investigations to protect consumers and ensure the competition in the relevant market(s). For instance;

  • France introduced a price control application for sanitizing gels temporarily on 5th of March, 2020 with the statement made by the French Ministry of Economy. At the same time, the French Competition Authority announced that it has been closely monitoring the prices of certain types of products, such as sanitizing gels and protective masks, especially on e-commerce and sales platforms.
  • On 27th of February, 2020, Italian Competition Authority made some requests to the major suppliers and commercial platforms, including Amazon and eBay, in order to obtain information and investigate the increases in protective mask and hand sanitizer prices and false statements of products.
  • Dutch Competition Authority stated in its statement on 18th of March, 2020 that it will closely observe whether companies that dominate the market during the pandemic will see an increase in prices.
  • In the same way, Spanish Competition Authority said on 12th of March, 2020 that it will closely monitor any issues that may hinder the supply and price of products that will help its citizens in protecting themselves against COVID-19

SRP-Legal has also been providing legal advice on the effects of COVID-19 to its clients' business affairs and relationships. If you have any questions, we will be pleased to assist you.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.