The Costa Rican Congress passed a new Antitrust Law (No 9739) to strengthen the legal capabilities and role of the Commission to Promote Competition ("COPROCOM") (as the general Antitrust Authority) and the Superintendence of Telecommunications ("SUTEL") (as the Antitrust Authority for the telecommunications sector).
Main changes introduced by the new Law include:
a) Higher fines for conducting prohibited actions and for not complying with the merger review process in due time and manner.
b) Filing fee for merger control processes.
c) New rules and thresholds to determine when a transaction requires the antitrust clearance.
d) Prohibition to close transactions prior to the antitrust clearance.
e) New merger control process with two phases, depending on the implications and impact of transactions in the local market, including extended terms.
f) New rules to impose remedies to transactions with local effects.
g) New procedure to investigate and sanction anticompetitive practices.
h) Fines will not be applicable to economic agents with de minimis market shares.
i) Fines will be imposed based on the severity of the anticompetitive practice.
j) The implementation of compliance programs could be considered by COPROCOM as a mitigating element when imposing fines.
k) New rules for the statute of limitations and expiration applicable to the investigation processes and fines for anticompetitive practices.
l) Specific rules to request civil indemnification for damages related to anticompetitive practices.
m) COPROCOM is considered as a decentralized public entity, attached to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce.
Publication of this new Law is pending; thus, it is not in full force and effect; however, we expect it to be published in the following days.