Belgium: Cartels

This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Cartels laws and regulations applicable in Belgium.

  1. What is the relevant legislative framework?

  2. To establish an infringement, does there need to have been an effect on the market?

  3. Does the law apply to conduct that occurs outside the jurisdiction?

  4. Which authorities can investigate cartels?

  5. What are the key steps in a cartel investigation?

  6. What are the key investigative powers that are available to the relevant authorities?

  7. On what grounds can legal privilege be invoked to withhold the production of certain documents in the context of a request by the relevant authorities?

  8. What are the conditions for a granting of full immunity? What evidence does the applicant need to provide? Is a formal admission required?

  9. What level of leniency, if any, is available to subsequent applicants and what are the eligibility conditions?

  10. Are markers available and, if so, in what circumstances?

  11. What is required of immunity/leniency applicants in terms of ongoing cooperation with the relevant authorities?

  12. Does the grant of immunity/leniency extend to immunity from criminal prosecution (if any) for current/former employees and directors?

  13. Is there an ‘amnesty plus’ programme?

  14. Does the investigating authority have the ability to enter into a settlement agreement or plea bargain and, if so, what is the process for doing so?

  15. What are the key pros and cons for a party that is considering entering into settlement?

  16. What is the nature and extent of any cooperation with other investigating authorities, including from other jurisdictions?

  17. What are the potential civil and criminal sanctions if cartel activity is established?

  18. What factors are taken into account when the fine is set? In practice, what is the maximum level of fines that has been imposed in the case of recent domestic and international cartels?

  19. Are parent companies presumed to be jointly and severally liable with an infringing subsidiary?

  20. Are private actions and/or class actions available for infringement of the cartel rules?

  21. What type of damages can be recovered by claimants and how are they quantified?

  22. On what grounds can a decision of the relevant authority be appealed?

  23. What is the process for filing an appeal?

  24. What are some recent notable cartel cases (limited to one or two key examples, with a very short summary of the facts, decision and sanctions/level of fine)?

  25. What are the key recent trends (e.g. in terms of fines, sectors under investigation, applications for leniency, approach to settlement, number of appeals, etc.)?

  26. What are the key expected developments over the next 12 months (e.g. imminent statutory changes, procedural changes, upcoming decisions, etc.)?