Competition watchdog to be able to search homes

Employees of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) will be able to search private homes if they believe that evidence of monopolistic practices by entrepreneurs could be found there, reported the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (DGP) daily.

The daily added that such actions would have to be approved by the court, and today only the police can conduct private searches in competition law cases. DGP pointed out that UOKiK focuses on looking for evidence at the headquarters of companies and emphasised that "this is one of the solutions that will be included in the draft amendment to the Act on Competition and Consumer Protection".

The draft "implements the EU directive into the Polish legal order and introduces the term of office of the president of UOKiK, who is currently appointed and dismissed by the Prime Minister. After the changes, the head of government will still elect the president, but for a term of several years. It will be possible to dismiss him only in strictly defined cases, such as sentencing by a final judgment for an intentional crime, deprivation of public rights or resignation", the daily reports.

DGP emphasised that the possibility of imposing periodic fines will also be introduced and added that the institution will be able to impose sanctions on the amount not exceeding 5 percent of the daily average turnover of the entrepreneur for each day of delays in implementing certain decisions or requests of the President of UOKiK."

"UOKiK will also be able to impose a sanction on a natural person who fails to provide the president of the office with the requested information, or who provides false or misleading information. However, there will be an exception to the rule. Citizens will be able to refuse to provide information and documents in the event that it would expose them or their relatives to criminal liability", writes DGP.

According to the daily, the government wants the bill to be submitted to the lower house of parliament in the first quarter of 2021.