By its unanimous Decision No. 636/2017, the Grand Chamber of the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) decided to settle a case against eight (8) companies controlled by HONDOS family members in the beauty and broader cosmetics sector regarding infringements of Articles 1 of the Greek Competition Act and 101 TFEU. The companies involved are: a) «HONDOS CENTER A.E.E. ΠΟΛΥΚΑΤΑΣΤΗΜΑΤΑ», b) «ΑΤΗΝΗ ΧΟΝΤΟΣ Α.Ε.Ε.», c) «ΧΟΝΤΟΣ ΠΟΛΥΚΑΤΑΣΤΗΜΑ Α.Ε.&Β.Ε.», d) «ΘΕΡΜΑΪΚΟΣ ΕΙΔΗ ΠΟΛΥΚΑΤΑΣΤΗΜΑΤΟΣ Α.Ε.&Β.Ε.», e) «ANSWER A.E.E. ΚΑΛΛΥΝΤΙΚΩΝ, ΤΟΥΡΙΣΤΙΚΩΝ ΕΙΔΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΙΔΩΝ ΝΕΩΤΕΡΙΣΜΟΥ», f) «STEP A.E.E. ΚΑΛΛΥΝΤΙΚΩΝ», g) «MAKALDI A.E.E. ΕΙΔΩΝ ΠΟΛΥΚΑΤΑΣΤΗΜΑΤΟΣ» and h) «ΑΦΟΙ Σ. ΧΟΝΤΟΥ ΚΑΛΛΥΝΤΙΚΑ Α.Β.Ε.Ε.».
In particular, according to the Decision, the above-mentioned companies engaged in horizontal price-fixing regarding the retail prices of their products, thereby infringing EU and national rules. For the said violation, the HCC imposed penalties in each of the 8 companies involved, amounting to € 1.053.595 in total.
The Decision was adopted through a simplified procedure, under the terms of the new Settlement Procedure (Article 25a of the Competition Act and Decision No. 628/2016), following an expression of interest and subsequent settlement declaration by the implicated parties. In this context, the 8 HONDOS companies acknowledged their participation and liability for the anti-competitive conduct at issue for the period June 2003-June 2006. In return, the HCC reduced the fines imposed in each of the implicated party by 15%, in accordance with the new rules. This is the first case dealt with under the new settlement procedure. Pursuant to a legislative amendment to the Greek Competition Act (Law 3959/2011) in 2016, the HCC has introduced a settlement procedure for cartel-type conduct, which allows it to settle cartel cases through a simplified procedure. Under this process, parties, having seen the evidence in the file, choose to acknowledge their involvement in the cartel and their liability for it. In return for this acknowledgement, the HCC reduces the fine imposed on the parties by 15%. Settlements aim to simplify the administrative proceedings and could reduce litigation before administrative courts in cartel cases. This will in turn free HCC resources to pursue other cases, thereby increasing the overall systemic effect of its enforcement action.