The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) recently closed the infringement proceedings against JASENSKA doo – a tangerine reseller – which had been opened ex officio to investigate potential unfair trade practices. The CCA penalised JASENSKA for violating the Act on the Prohibition of Unfair Commercial Practices in the Food Supply Chain (UTP Act) by using its strong bargaining power. The CCA imposed a monetary fine of HRK350,000 (approximately €46,000) on JASENSKA.
The CCA found that JASENSKA had imposed on its tangerine suppliers the following unfair trading practices:
- JASENSKA's general terms and conditions of purchase contained no provisions on the terms of payment and the time and place of delivery of tangerines, which contravenes with the UTP Act.
- Based on the sampling method of five of JASENSKA's suppliers, the CCA found that the sale purchase agreements did not clearly define the price or provide the method for calculation or correction of the price (ie, they did not provide for the quality parameters of the product concerned that should be used to calculate the price of agricultural products).
- The agreements did not clearly define the terms and the time of delivery in 2018, which made the terms and the time of delivery vague and ambiguous. Under the UTP Act, these provisions are considered a mandatory part for any written agreement between suppliers and buyers and must be set out clearly and unambiguously.
- The CCA also found on the basis of the sampling method involving five suppliers that JASENSKA had taken over the unsorted and unripe tangerines for further market placement, despite the fact that such takeover had been unregulated by the storage and preservation agreements concluded between JASENSKA and its suppliers and by the production and delivery agreements, thereby de facto postponing the actual time of delivery of tangerines and consequently transferring all of the operational risk relating to the respective agricultural products on to the suppliers.
- JASENSKA had refused to take over the delivery of tangerines for eight days during the 2018 tangerine season without any justified reason.
In addition to imposing the monetary fine, the CCA prohibited any further behaviour that constitutes unfair trade practices and ordered JASENSKA to provide evidence that the agreements with its suppliers have been brought into compliance with the UTP Act.