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Estonian Competition Authority

Notification: The court of law confirms approach of the Competition Authority with regard to an additional fee for waste removal

According to the ruling of the Supreme Court of 2 December 2015, the precept of the Competition Authority issued on 30 June 2014 to Eesti Keskkonnateenused AS comes into force. With this precept the Competition Authority obliges the company to cease taking unreasonably high fees for gate opening from customers in the waste removal regions of Rae, Jõelähtme, Kiili and Raasiku municipalities.

The Competition Authority is of the opinion that for additional services with regard to which the customer has no option of choice the waste removal company can only charge expenses-based fees. Such additional services include various services related to waste removal, for instance opening of gates, moving the container from remote locations to the waste removal vehicle, etc. The court has confirmed this approach with regard to the specific case of opening of gates. During tenders for waste removal the amount of additional fees is usually not assessed, and thus waste removal companies were free to charge such fees as they saw fit. The precept provides that such a fee should be based on the requirements applicable to companies in a dominant market position, according to which the fees cannot be unreasonably high.

In 2013 Eesti Keskkonnateenused AS has won the tender for waste removal in Rae, Jõelähtme, Kiili and Raasiku municipalities and has set in these municipalities the fee for handling keys or remote controls for opening customer’s gates or lifting gates in the amount of 11.50 euros per case. In most situations customers have no reasonable alternatives to the waste removal company opening the gates itself, and thus the Competition Authority declared Eesti Keskkonnateenused AS as an undertaking in a dominant position with regard to the service for opening gates.

The analysis carried out by the Competition Authority demonstrates that the set fee for opening gates in the amount of 11.50 euros per case is not based on actual expenses and thus is unreasonably high. Therefore the Competition Authority issued the precept, according to which as an undertaking in a dominant market position Eesti Keskkonnateenused AS has breached the Competition Act.

Both Tallinn Administrative Court and the District Court dismissed claims of the company and the Supreme Court did not accept the cassation appeal for review. On 14 December 2015 Eesti Keskkonnateenused AS has informed the Competition Authority that the precept is complied with and that the fee for opening gates in Rae, Jõelähtme, Kiili and Raasiku municipalities is removed from the pricelist for its services.

In 2013 the Competition Authority issued a similar precept to another large waste removal company Ragn-Sells AS that has complied with it without trying to challenge it in the court of law.