Italian competition regulations
Rules on competition are established at different levels, the first of which is the general rule on ‘fair’ business behavior set out by the Italian Civil Code. Secondly, the Italian Civil Code establishes a limited number of exceptions, such as non-competition agreements concluded upon termination of an employment contract or a transfer of a going concern. A third set of rules, based on articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, establishes the legal framework of control over competition matters and the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato). This Authority operates according to the EU principles established by the EU Commission and Court of Justice and monitors the following matters:
Business agreements and practices which may have an adverse impact on competition
Business combinations that may give rise to market dominance
It has the power to determine the conditions on which business combinations must be realized, to stop them if they may lead to a dominant position on the market, and to issue fines and sanctions.
Various public authorities have supervisory and regulatory powers over companies operating in specific fields.
The Banking Authority supervises the activities and organization of banks and financial institutions listed in the register indicated by article 107 of the Italian Banking Law, monitoring their management and compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.
It examines the documentation and statistics sent to it by the above bodies, and carries out inspections of banks and other financial institutions.
Another part of the Banking Authority’s role is to protect transparency in all financial and banking transactions, also in order to improve relations with end customers.
The Insurance Authority was set up by Law no. 576/1982, in order to supervise insurance companies and all other parties governed by insurance law, including agents and insurance brokers.
The Authority monitors and regulates the market and operators, also by making the necessary inspections and issuing fines where appropriate. Its mission includes protecting end customers, supervising the text of contracts, reviewing claims, and verifying the fair conduct of insurance companies.
The Energy Authority was set up by Law no. 481/1995 in order to regulate and supervise the electricity and gas markets. The Authority is empowered to:
Fix maximum tariffs for services, in order to ensure certainty and transparency to the benefit of end customers
Define guidelines for the production and supply of energy and gas, set quality standards, check compliance, and establish the refunds to be made to end customers where applicable
Verify that said guidelines are actually observed and impose penalties
Verify that competition laws and regulations are observed by the companies operating in the electricity and gas markets, and inform the relevant authority in the event of violations
Examine claims and petitions filed by end customers, promoting settlements with operators where appropriate or ordering operators to modify their service provision.