By cooperating with the GVH, you can significantly reduce the expected consequences.

1. I want to avoid the finding of an infringement


The finding of an infringement may be avoided if the undertaking voluntarily proposes a solution that remedies the identified competition concern.

  • Commitments can be made at any time during the proceeding, but it is practical to do so as soon as possible.
  • Commitments may contain e.g. compensation of consumers or carrying out an educational campaign
  • If the commitments are accepted by the acting Competition Council, it makes them binding by its decision and will not establish an infringement or impose a fine.

Further information:

2. I want to avoid a sanction

Complete leniency

The purpose of the leniency policy is to facilitate the detection of cartels and other price-fixing infringements.

The imposition of a fine (which also involves the establishment of an infringement) can be avoided if the undertaking

  • is the first to file its application, and
  • supplies evidence that provides a basis for obtaining a judicial warrant to carry out an unannounced inspection (where the GVH does not already have sufficient information or has not previously carried out an unannounced inspection) or
  • provides evidence that enables the infringement to be proven (where the GVH does not already have sufficient information to prove it)

Further conditions on the complete leniency and the fine reduction leniency (see below):

  • The applicant shall terminate its participation in the infringement immediately after the submission of its application (unless the GVH considers that its further participation in the infringement is necessary for the successful completion of the unannounced inspection or the competition supervision proceeding).
  • The undertaking will cooperate in good faith, fully and continuously with the GVH until the end of the competition supervision proceeding.
  • The undertaking shall not disclose that it has submitted a leniency application or reveal the content of the evidence provided to anyone – except in the case of a leniency application filed with another competition authority – in any way without the consent of the GVH.
  • The applicant must not have forced any other undertaking to participate in the infringement. (Otherwise, the fine may only be reduced and not omitted.)

Further information:

I intend to reduce the expected sanctions

Fine reduction leniency

The amount of the fine to be imposed may be reduced by up to 50% if the undertaking subject to the proceeding provides evidence of significant added value and in case if the application for an exemption it is not possible otherwise.

An application for a fine reduction may be made at any time during the proceeding, but only in exceptional cases after the preliminary position or the report of the case handler has been sent or the right of access to the file has been granted.

Proactive reparation

In the event that the undertaking subject to the proceeding voluntarily – either partially or fully – compensates affected consumers for the harm arising from the infringement (by providing some form of compensation), the Competition Council will take this into account when imposing the fine. When submitting the commitments, the GVH assesses, inter alia, the following aspects:

  • whether the proactive reparation offered is directly related to the issue subject to the competition supervision proceeding
  • the commitments are specifically intended to remedy the competition issue subject to the proceeding and are not a measure that has already been decided and will be taken in any case
  • how the value, cost (or fiscal effects) of the measure relates to the amount of the calculated fine
  • whether proactive reparation directly benefits a wide range of consumers (and at least those affected by the infringement)
  • the impact of the commitments on job creation, market access, foreign trade and tax revenues
  • whether the commitments contribute to sustainability or environmental protection, thereby increasing consumer welfare
  • whether the commitments are sufficiently substantiated when the proactive reparation is offered, whether the benefits to be achieved by the commitments can be substantiated by data or analysis, and whether after their implementation, the effects of the commitments can be verified by audited results and thus accounted for.


The Competition Council may initiate a settlement prior to the announcement of a preliminary position in antitrust proceedings. If the client admits the infringement and waives its right of access to documents, statements, hearings and judicial remedies, it may receive a 10-30% fine reduction. The purpose of the settlement procedure is to speed up the completion of the proceeding, which can save the client significant costs and time.

Further information:

Compliance programme

In order to promote voluntary compliance, both ex-ante and ex-post compliance efforts may be considered by the GVH when imposing a fine.

Existing compliance programme in consumer protection cases

The fine may be reduced by an unlimited amount, if the undertaking proves that

  • it requested legal advice before developing and/or publishing its commercial practice that was later found to be infringing,
  • it adopted its commercial practices in accordance with that legal advice; and
  • the legal advice was not obviously unfounded and therefore not obviously contrary to substantive law or the case-law of the authority. (A resolution may be considered more substantiated if it has been drafted by an independent body or person, or by a consumer protection officer of the undertaking concerned.)
  • Only a factual, substantial compliance effort may be considered as a mitigating factor; the mere existence of a compliance programme is not enough.

Ex-post compliance in consumer protection cases

The fine to be imposed may be reduced if the undertaking subject to the proceeding undertakes to set up a compliance programme:

  • By up to 20%, if the compliance programme is undertaken along with proactive reparation or admission of the infringement.
  • By up to 5%, in the absence of proactive reparation or admission of the infringement.
  • The compliance programme undertaken shall meet internationally agreed minimum requirements (public commitment, provision of financial resources, training of employees, signaling systems, control mechanisms, feedback, programme development).

Further information:

Existing compliance in antitrust cases

The fine to be imposed may be reduced if the undertaking committing the infringement already had a compliance programme in operation:

  • By up to 7%, if the undertaking detects the infringement through the compliance programme and terminates it immediately.
  • By up to 10%, if the undertaking provides significant additional evidence and demonstrates that the evidence has been identified through the compliance programme.
  • In both cases, if high-ranked corporate executes were not involved in the infringement.

Ex-post compliance in antitrust cases

The fine to be imposed may be reduced by up to 5% if the undertaking subject to the proceeding undertakes to set up a compliance programme, and it is combined with a leniency policy, a settlement procedure and/or a proactive reparation.

  • The compliance programme undertaken shall meet internationally agreed minimum requirements and include
    • a clear and unambiguous commitment on behalf of the governing body and executives of the undertaking to comply with competition rules,
    • the availability of the necessary staff and financial resources to ensure the effective application of the compliance programme,
    • the existence of appropriate measures to ensure that the employees of the undertaking possess the appropriate awareness and training regarding the compliance programme
    • the existence of effective signalling, monitoring and control mechanisms,
    • the ways of feedback and ways of improvement of the compliance programme.

Further information:

Rewarding other forms of cooperation:

The GVH may also take into account other forms of cooperation not mentioned above as a fine reducing factor, as a result of which it may reduce the amount of the fine by up to 20% in antitrust cases and by up to 30% in consumer protection cases.

In this context, the GVH will take into account, in particular, the degree of cooperation in the proceeding that contributes to the detection of the infringement (voluntary provision of evidence proving the infringement, clarification of the circumstances of the infringement, admission of the infringement or non-contestation of the facts) or the voluntary waiver of legal rights.

Further information:

Information on SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may receive special treatment.

  • In the case of a first competition infringement, a warning may be used instead of a fine
  • In addition to issuing a warning, the Competition Council may prescribe the introduction of a compliance programme (in consumer protection/antitrust cases) and monitor its fulfilment.
  • The warning is not applicable:

(i) where the infringement takes the form of a price-fixing or market-sharing agreement in a public procurement procedure, or

(ii) the infringement was committed against a particularly vulnerable person.