The Autorité de la concurrence issues a decision concerning a case which has been brought to its attention through the leniency procedure. The Autorité principally fines 20 delivery service companies for coordinating on annual price increases that they charged their respective clients. This information sharing process, which occurred between September 2004 and September 2010, mainly took place during meetings held within the framework of a professional trade union body (TLF) which has also been fined.
Round table discussions were regularly organised upstream and downstream of the price increase campaigns, enabling the companies to harmonise their pricing demands and secure their business negotiations. The discussions were kept secret with no official minutes being taken.
These discussions were completed, with regard to some companies, by bilateral or multilateral exchanges.
The following companies were involved in the agreement: Alloin, BMVirolle, Chronopost, Exapaq (now known as DPD France), Ciblex, Dachser France, DHL Express France, FedEx Express France, Gefco, Geodis, GLS France, Heppner, Lambert et Valette, XP France, Norbert Dentressangle Distribution, Normatrans, Schenker-Joyau (now known as Schenker France), TNT Express France, Transports Henri Ducros, Ziegler France.
The professional trade union sanctioned is TLF. The documents in the case file show that TLF, instead of playing its role of vigilance in terms of compliance with competition rules, actively participated in organising unlawful discussions whilst also protecting their confidentiality.
When calculating the penalties, the Autorité took into account the duration of the practices, their seriousness and the harm caused to the economy in particular to SMEs, which due to their insufficient negotiating power, were the first victims of the agreement. It nevertheless adapted its penalties to the specifics of the case, in particular by reducing, for six companies (Ciblex, Heppner, Lambert et Valette, XP France, Transport Henri Ducros and Ziegler) the amount of the penalties by more than 90% in order to take into account their current financial difficulties (see summary table at the end of the press release). Moreover, the Autorité, when calculating the penalties, took into account the leniency applications and the fact that the charges were not challenged (settlement procedure).
Moreover, this decision sanctions 15 of the same companies as well as TLF, for having reached anti-competitive agreements, between May 2004 and January 2006, on the principle and the method used to pass on the costs (at the bottom of invoices) of the increase in the price of diesel to their clients.