Prevention, suppression, detection and investigation of violations of competition law: practice and main trends

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In 2019, the Kazakhstan Competition Authority (“Competition Authority”) published reports on the state of competition in specific commodities markets and measures taken to limit monopolistic activity. The reports provide a comparative analysis of, and statistics on, the use of mechanisms for preventing, suppressing, detecting and investigating violations of competition laws for 2017-2018, as well as a brief analysis of the 1st half of 2019 (hereinafter - “Reports”). 

Our brief review of the Reports presented below shows what the Competition Authority pays most attention to and the trends in how the appropriate mechanisms are used. 

I. Investigations of violations of competition law

Investigations 

  • In the 1st half of 2019, 45 investigations were conducted, within which 37 violations were identified;
  • In 2018, 173 investigations were conducted, within which 145 violations were identified;
  • In 2017, 211 investigations were conducted, within which 187 violations were identified.

There was a reduction in the number of investigations conducted, which may be due to the implementation of the institution of notifications.

For the second year in a row, the most prevailing types of violations are violations on the basis of anticompetitive concerted actions, abuse of a dominant or monopoly position, as well as unfair competition. Also, according to the Reports, the number of investigations related to anticompetitive agreements is increasing.

As we can see according to the Reports, in most cases the Competition Authority makes decisions on initiating cases of administrative offenses and issues orders to eliminate violations of Kazakhstan laws.

Conciliation commission

The institution of the conciliation commission1 allows the subject of the investigation to present its defense as part of a pre-trial discussion of the draft opinion with representatives of the Competition Authority that conducted the investigation.

  • 2019 (the first half of the year) - 18 meetings were held by the conciliation commission. In 12 cases, the conciliation commission recommended finalizing the draft conclusions on the results of the investigation.
  • 2018 - 25 meetings were held by the conciliation commission. In most cases, the conciliation commission recommended finalizing the draft conclusions on the result of the investigation.
  • 2017 - 37 meetings were held by the conciliation commission.

There is a general tendency to reduce appeals to the conciliation commission, although this institution allows the subjects of investigations to challenge the draft conclusions before their final approval.

Court proceedings

The Reports present the overall statistics in respect of proceedings in civil and administrative proceedings involving the Competition Authority (not only as the applicant).

  • In 2018, the number of proceedings amounted to 250 cases, including 190 administrative and 60 civil ones.

In most cases (217 cases − about 87%) the courts’ decisions were made in favor of the Competition Authority.

  • In 2017, the number of proceedings amounted to 253 cases, including 170 administrative and 83 civil ones.

As in 2018, in most cases (204 cases − about 81%) the decisions were made in favor of the Competition Authority.

II. Anti-monopoly compliance

Anti-monopoly compliance is a system of measures to prevent violations of Kazakhstan laws in the field of protection of competition2, implemented by a market entity in the form of an external act subject to approval by the Competition Authority.

  • 2018 − the Competition Authority received only 3 drafts of the external acts for approval, 2 of which were approved;
  • 2017 − the Competition Authority also received 3 drafts of the external acts, but none of those reviewed was approved (one was withdrawn by the market entity).

Despite the lack of rapid development of the institution of antimonopoly compliance, the above may indicate a positive trend in the coordination of the external acts by the Competition Authority.

III. Preliminary review of draft agreements between market entities

The institution of the preliminary review of draft agreements between market entities is a mechanism that allows market entities to apply to the Competition Authority for preliminary consideration of a draft agreement to check if there are signs of an anticompetitive agreement3.

  • 2018 − 4 applications were considered, 3 of which made positive decisions (i.e., draft agreements comply with the requirements of competition laws);
  • 2017 − no applications were received. This can be explained by the fact that this institution was put into effect only in 2016.

At this stage, we can only say that the practice of preliminary consideration of draft agreements is in development, while there is a positive trend in the position of the Competition Authority.

IV. Warnings about the inadmissibility of actions that may lead to violation of the law in the field of protection of competition

The Warning4 mechanism has a preventive nature aimed at mitigating risks and preventing possible violations of competition laws in the planned actions (or omission) of a market entity. Warnings are made by the Competition Authority in the form of a special act sent to the market entity without conducting an investigation.

  • 2019 (1st half) − 2 warnings sent;
  • 2018 − 4 warnings sent;
  • 2017 − 26 warnings sent.

The Reports do not allow the establishing of the reason for this difference in the statistics for the two years. At the same time, it is obvious that the Competition Authority is using less of this preventive mechanism to prevent violations.

V. Notifications of signs of violation of the competition laws

The notification5 institution has also a preventive nature and serves as a mechanism for eliminating signs of violation of competition laws in the committed actions (or inaction) of a market entity. Notifications are issued by the Competition Authority in the form of a special act sent to a market entity.

  • 2019 (1st half) - 170 notifications were sent. In 140 cases, the signs of violations were eliminated;
  • 2018 − 325 notifications were sent. In 295 cases, the signs of violations were eliminated;
  • 2017 − there were half as many notifications.

There is an increase in the number of notifications. According to the Reports, the majority of notifications were issued in relation to actions (or omission) of market entities, in which there were signs of abuse of a dominant or monopoly position, as well as unfair competition. At the same time, a positive trend can be noted in eliminating the actions (or inaction) of a market entity showing signs of violation of competition laws without an investigation.


  1. Article 220 of the Entrepreneurial Code of Kazakhstan dated 29 October 2015 (“Entrepreneurial Code”).
  2. Article 195-1 of the Entrepreneurial Code.
  3. Article 171 of the Entrepreneurial Code.
  4. Article 198 of the Entrepreneurial Code.
  5. Article 199 of the Entrepreneurial Code.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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