New Belgian Leniency Guidelines Open Door to Individual Applicants

On 1 March 2016, the Belgian Competition Authority (“BCA”) adopted its new Leniency Guidelines (“the 2016 Leniency Guidelines”). The 2016 Leniency Guidelines replace the 2007 Notice of the Competition Council on Immunity from Fines and Reduction of Fines in Cartel Cases (“the 2007 Leniency Notice”). The new guidelines were published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 22 March 2016 and are applicable to leniency applications made from that date onwards, unless an application has already been made in the same case on the basis of the 2007 Leniency Notice (in which case the old guidelines continue to apply).

The revision of the Belgian leniency regime mainly aims to deal with the fact that, since 2013, individuals who are not undertakings can be sanctioned for violations of competition law and therefore can also submit leniency applications. Though in practice the BCA already accepted leniency applications made by individuals, the guidelines now set out how this is done and what the interplay is between leniency applications made by individuals and leniency applications made by undertakings. The guidelines furthermore clarify some of the procedural and practical modalities of the leniency programme under the BCA’s new institutional framework.

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