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Competition Law Litigation

5 May 2016

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania dropped charges against a local travel agency UAB TopTravel by completely overturning the decision of the Lithuanian Competition Council and the ruling of Vilnius District Court regarding this company. On June 7, 2012 the Competition Council of Lithuania found that several travel agencies, including UAB TopTravel, used online booking system E-TURAS. Initially, the Competition Council has imposed a fine of almost €40,000, which was challenged by the law firm in administrative courts. Thus, this case concerned the alleged participation of certain local travel agencies in a common computerised booking system that restricted the discount rates available for online bookings.

This was the first Lithuanian competition case that reached the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 TFEU. After the CJEU passed its judgment on January 21, 2016 in the case C-74/14 ("Eturas" UAB and Others v Lietuvos Respublikos konkurencijos taryba) regarding interpretation of Article 101(1) TFEU, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania re-examined pleadings of the parties regarding participation in the alleged concerted practice and annulled the fine in respect of Top Travel represented by Sulija Partners Law Firm Vilnius.

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania ruled that in view of the fact that the director of UAB TopTravel has expressed an explicit objection to limiting the amount of discounts and has terminated the agreement with UAB Eturas where such limitations were set, the panel of judges ruled that UAB TopTravel had distanced itself from the concerted practice and thus the Competition Council and the court of first instance wrongfully found that UAB TopTravel had violated <...>  the Competition Law and TFEU. Many other Lithuanian travel agencies were not as successful as UAB Top Travel.

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