I750 - Professional associations: investigation launched into possible competition-restricting agreement by the Notary Council of Bari
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: ANTITRUST LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO POSSIBLE COMPETITION-RESTRICTING AGREEMENT BY THE NOTARY COUNCIL OF BARI
With the memorandum of 22nd March 2012, the Council reintroduced tariffs that had already been abolished by law, deciding to follow the Notary Council of Milan's decision against which the Authority had already launched proceedings last May.
In a meeting on 12th June 2012, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato decided to launch an investigation to determine whether the Notary Council of Bari violated the laws on competition last March by distributing a memorandum on the rates used by notaries that reintroduces the tariffs de facto. The Council's decision follows an analogous one by the Notary Council of Milan, against which the Antitrust already launched an investigation in May. The resolution of the Council of Milan is referred to explicitly in the memorandum by the President of the Council of Bari, a document that refers, according to what the Authority has been told, to the complaints of various notaries who are being paid much less than their colleagues for the same acts.
According to the Antitrust, the memorandum interferes with the freedom of the notaries of the Bari district to determine the tariffs applied for their own services and, in essence, is targeted at the nullification of the legalized liberalization contained in the CresciItalia decree in an effort to circumvent the provisions.
The memorandum addressed by the investigation refers explicitly to the tariffs previously in effect, which would continue to serve as a reference parameter for determining the adequacy of the compensation, and warns that “anyone who continues to compete unlawfully will continue to attract the attention of the Notary Council.”
According to the Antitrust, resolutions by professional associations that are designed to fix standard tariffs are anti-competitive by their very nature. Horizontal price fixing for professional services is a particularly significant violation of Antitrust law, since its aim is to eliminate competition on one
of the most critical elements of the professional's economic activity, i.e., the price itself.
Rome, 09th July 2012