• The Italian Competition Authority’s New Powers in Relation to Vexatious Clauses
  • February 6, 2013
  • Law Firm: Norton Rose Canada LLP - Montreal Office
  • The Monti government introduced a number of significant legislative reforms over the last year.

    Among these reforms, one entrusts the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) with new powers in relation to unfair commercial clauses (so-called “vexatious clauses”) included in agreements concluded between undertakings and consumers through the subscription of general conditions or standard forms.

    In particular, Art. 5 of Law Decree No. 1/2012, as converted into law by Law No. 27/2012, provides a two-fold approach with regard to vexatious clauses. From an ex ante perspective, undertakings may consult the ICA in advance (so-called “interpello”) in relation to the fairness of commercial clauses included in their standard agreements. From an ex post perspective, the ICA may declare some clauses to be vexatious and, in order to inform the market, publish its decision on the ICA’s as well as the relevant undertaking’s website.

    Fines may be imposed by the ICA upon undertakings in case of obstruction to the investigation, provision of untruthful information and/or failure to comply with the ICA’s decision.

    On the basis of the above, a detailed client briefing paper that illustrates the new legislative framework and provides guidelines on the application of such legislation is enclosed.