There is no such thing as free lunch... Facebook fined by GVH

There is no such thing as free lunch... One of the highest fine ever imposed in a consumer protection proceeding in Hungary, the brief introduction of the recent Facebook decision of the Hungarian Competition Authority

According to the recent resolution of the Hungarian Competition Authority Facebook Ireland Ltd. has infringed the provisions of the act on the prohibition of unfair commercial practices against consumers by advertising its services as free of charge on its site between January 2010 and August 2019 and in its Help Centre between January 2010 and October 2019. Though Facebook users did not have to pay effective cash for the services in question, yet Facebook benefited economically from the user’s data and activities on the platform, with which the users were paying for the services provided by the company.

After the examination of the details of the case the Hungarian Competition Authority imposed a fine of EUR 3.6 million in total, which is considered to be one of the highest fine ever imposed in a

Read more: There is no such thing as free lunch... Facebook fined by GVH

Tipping is sexy or maybe not? A ‘tip-slider’ with default settings was found to be unlawful by the Hungarian Competition Authority

After almost two years of investigation the Hungarian Competition Authority established that a terminal operator, HelloPay Zrt. had been conducting unfair commercial practice from April 2016 by automatically applying 10% tip/donation rate at its terminals. As a consequence of the infringement, a fine of HUF 20,000,000 (approximately EUR 62,500) is to be paid in twenty instalments and the company was prohibited to continue the commercial practice.

Read more: Tipping is sexy or maybe not? A ‘tip-slider’ with default settings was found to be unlawful by the...

Antitrust and Sustainability

Prof. Fabian Stancke (Brunswick European University) delivered a lecture following the invitation of Pazmany’s Competition Law Research Center. Prof. Stancke discussed the relationship between public policies promoting sustainability goals and competition law. Participants included students, practicing lawyers, faculty members and a representative of the competition authority. Lively discussion developed about the extent to which competition law is able to accomodate sustainabiility concerns, and especially whether competition authorities have the mandate and also the capabilities to protect non-economic public interests. The Competition Law Research Center, benefiting from the university’s strengths in environmental and competition laws and enjoying the support of the EU Commission’ Jean Monnet Chair program, hosts events discussing how sustainability and competition goals can be reconciled. Prof. Stancke’s presentation can be downloaded from here. (slides updated on 16.12.2019)

Criminalization of cartels

On 15th February 2018, the Competition Law Research Center (Pázmány Péter Catholic University) invited to the lecture of Prof. Dr. Peter Whelan (University of Leeds) entitled „Cartel criminalization” the faculty and PhD students of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, the members of the Hungarian Competition Law Association and the representatives of the Hungarian Competition Authority and the Constitutional Court. Prof. Dr. Peter Whelan examined recent trends in the criminalization of cartels. He noted that recent amendments to the cartel offense in the UK will make criminal enforcement less likely to be effective in that jurisdiction. The importance of the moral stigma was emphasized as a key factor to effective and efficient criminalization. Given the wide range of cartels, the immoral nature of such anti-competitive agreements is not always obvious.


The Competition Law Research Center, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, organized for the fourth time an international conference on unfair commercial practices. The event on May 20 was opened by Péter Darák, president of the Curia. Keynote speakers included Anita Vegter, member of the board of the NmA, the Dutch competition and market regulatory authority, István Szente, director general of the NFH, the Hungarian consumer Protection Authority, and Veronica Manfredi, the head of unit of DG Justice and Consumers of the European Commission. The event, featuring 17 speakers, focused on unfair and misleading advertisement in relation to children and the special problems related to online marketing.


I am happy to announce some of the important dates for 2016, conferences organized by us:

  • 20 May 2016 - IVth Annual Conference on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (webpage:
  • 30 September 2016 - VIth Annual Conference on Competition Enforcement in the CEE Member States (webpage:
  • 10 December 2016 - 10th Anniversary of the Competition Law Research Centre

We will also have some interesting workshops in English, no dates yet:

  • State action doctrine in EU and Hungary - Early June 2016


As the second act of the two-day seminar, The European State Aid Law Institute (EStALI) organized the prestigious "Autumn Conference on European State Aid Law 2015" in the event hall of the co-organizer Pázmány Péter Catholic University on 4th December 2015. More than 50 participants from all of the European Union's 28 Member States and beyond made an appearance at the all-day event. Academics, economists, private legal practitioners and industry representatives attended the conference in order to benefit from exchanging their views on the rules that will guide European State aid control for the coming years.

The first session of the conference commenced with the speech of Szabolcs Takács (State Secretary for European Union Affairs, The Prime Minister's Office, Budapest) who pointed out a close cooperation and harmonisation of the Member States. Gert-Jan Koopman (Deputy Director General State Aid, DG Competition, European Commission, Brussels) proposed the importance of the State Aid Modernisation and the review of the State aid rules. In Koopman's opinion the point of the modernisation is changing the balance of State aid control. In the closing in his presentation Koopman emphasized the necessity to deepen relationship with Member States to able to go forward.

Ottó Czúcz (Judge, General Court of the European Union, Luxembourg) delivered a presentation about the Jurisprudence on EU State Aid Matters by means of selected judgments of the Court of Justice and the General Court of the European Union pronounced between 1st November 2014 and 15 November 2015.

In the second session, the Commission's Tax Rulings were discussed with the specific focus on the most recent jurisprudence on material selectivity. José Luis Buendía Sierra (Partner, EU Law Office Garrigues, Brussels; EStAL Managing Editor) and George Peretz QC (Monckton Chambers; joint chair of the UK State Aid Law Association; UK country correspondent for the EStAL journal, London) spoke about actual and relevant regulation matters through some recent case law on selectivity. In their well-prepared presentations they brought necessary moves into prominence in order to keep up a sophisticated regulation of tax matters. A constructive debate began after presentations moderated by Tihamér Tóth (Associate Professor, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest).

After the lunch break, the third session was an intensive summary of the Commission's effect on the trade package, and the two illustrious speaker Péter Staviczky (Attaché for State Aid, Hungarian Permanent Representation, Brussels) and Leo Flynn (Legal Service, European Commission, Brussels) were speaking about the concept of "trade between EU countries" and the notion of an activity with purely local impact and questions like "Would such change be compatible with the current State aid rules in the Treaty?". As in the first session, Andreas Bartosch (LUTZ-ABEL Rechtsanwalts GmbH, Brussels) was the chair and took the lead of the debate in a facetious and professional way.

In the 4th session Olga Simeon (Regione autunoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, Brussels) and Jan Philipp Otter (Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal AG, Hamburg) were discussing the regional and infrastructure aid and focused particularly on the recent case law involving regional aid and implications and application of the GBER for infrastructure projects.

The conference attendees could truly update their knowledge of State Aid Law thanks to a number of highly topical presentations from experts. Finally, the Q&A sessions left time for exchange and fireside chat with colleagues from several EU Member States.


The Frankfurter Allgemeine reports that Wolfgang Schäuble proposes to set up a new competition or internal market authority which is truly independent, not like the current European Commission. (See here.) If there is a reform, they shall also make it sure that the new authority shall prove a competition case before an independent and impartial tribunal, like in true democratic states it shall be the case.


Tihamer Tóth visited St. Louis Law School between March 3-5, 2015. Tihamér talked about European M&A control co-teaching an antitrust law lecture of Thomas Greaney, head of the No. 1 ranked health law program of SLU. He also delivered a speech about the challenges facing the European Union from a Hungarian perspective, organized by David Borgmeyer, director of the Center for International Studies.

SLU is a Jesuist university with a special relationship with Pázmány Péter Catholic University. Pázmány students can spend one semester at SLU Law thanks to the generous support of Joseph Adorjan. The most recent guest from SLU to Pázmány was Willam Johnson, director of the Center for International and Comparative Law.

IMG 1505


The St.Gallen ICF has a history of attracting reputable speakers and interested participants from European competition authorities, the advocacy, academia, public offices as well as major international companies. They not only hail from Switzerland and Europe, but some travel to St.Gallen from North America and Asia to share their experience and to discuss the current topics of the field.

Cornerstones of each St.Gallen ICF iteration are the ‘Speech by the Commissioner’ and the ‘Presidents’ breakfast’. The conference is very proud to have some of the most distinguished speakers in the field, including Vincent Martenet (President, Swiss Competition Authority), Agnete Gersing (Director General, Danish Competition and Consumer Authority), Bruno Lasserre (President, French Competition Authority) and Giovanni Pitruzzella (Chairman,
Italian Competition Authority).

Another highlight of the conference will be an interview of Carl Baudenbacher (President, EFTA Court; Director CC-EIL, University of St.Gallen HSG) on the EFTA Court´s contributions to European competition law.
This very interactive panel will be lead by Lewis Crofts (Chief Correspondent Europe, MLex) and David Lawsky (Consultant, Fipra International).

Further information including a detailed programme can be found on the conference website: An online registration ( is available.

Date: 23rd and 24th of April 2015

Location: St.Gallen, Switzerland




While December should be a month of joy and happiness, Uber has been facing bans and problems again in Europe.

Earlier this month the service was banned in Spain as a preventive measure of a local judge. The measure came ahead of a complaint filed by the Madrid Taxi Association.

Another local judge, this time in France, decided not to ban UberPop, which is similar to UberX in the United States. However, as the NYT appointed on Monday 15, “In the latest legal twist for Uber, Pierre-Henry Brandet, the French Interior Ministry spokesman, said that new legislation called the Thévenoud Law — which requires all drivers who chauffeur paying passengers to have a license and appropriate insurance — would form the basis of the ban.” And of course, UberPop does not meet the licensing requirement.

Mr. Brandet called for “better regulating the profession to avoid unfair competition.” He announced fines up to $370,000 and up to two years in prison for those who operate such services, starting on January first.

Nonetheless and against all expectations and thoughts, a recent report made by Zendrive, a driving analytics company, concluded that “Taxi drivers are faster, less safe than Uber and Lyft counterparts”.

To perform the study, Zendrive hired passengers to take rides and secretly record the experience. The study assessed the driving habits of more than 1,000 drivers in San Francisco and shows that taxi drivers were the worst at obeying traffic laws (such as speeding or phone usage).

It proves how in San Francisco Uber, Lyft and Sidecar drivers were the least likely to speed: 22% of rideshare cars in the study exceeded the speed limit, compared to 27% of average drivers and 32% of taxi drivers. When using the phone while driving, non-professional drivers were least likely (18%) to do it, with rideshare drivers coming in next (20%), and taxi drivers coming in last (25%).

This report is very relevant since the claim about safety has been constantly held by Uber enemies. Now that bans are becoming more and more frequent, maybe policy makers should better consider statistics and studies and take the opportunity to improve a market that has not changed over the past decades. They should assess the situation for the benefit of consumers, which is the ultimate aim of competition policy. Protecting unquestioningly an antiquated industry does not seem to be the best option any more.


El País “Judge orders Uber to cease all operations in Spain”

New York Times “France Says It Will Ban Uber’s Low-Cost Service in New Year”

Business insider “French Cabbies Say They're Going To Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber”

“Taxi drivers are faster, less safe than Uber and Lyft counterparts, study finds” by Jessica Plautz

National Post “Chris Selley: The anti-Uber double standard”

BOOKING.COM AND PARTNERS UNDER FIRE - INTRODUCTION - as probably the most influential OTA in Europe has been under heavy fire recently. We will cover the different aspects of the ongoing issues in several blogposts, this is just a quick reminder on the issues.

More to come ;)

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