The Decree-Law 9/2021 of 29 January approved a new Legal Regime for Economic Offences in order to harmonize and simplify the existing administrative offence regimes of economic activities (with the exclusion of the environmental, financial, tax and customs, communications, competition and social security sectors).
Among the main innovations introduced by the new regime are:
- The graduation of offences into light, serious and very serious, with the amounts of fines varying depending on the nature of the agent (individual person or legal person) and the size of the infringer (micro, small, medium or large enterprise).
- For offences commited through the Internet: the competent administrative authority will be able to apply precautionary measures, e.g. the removal of content, the restriction of access to online interfaces, the imposition of alerts to consumers or the blocking of websites.
The new law establishes a new general framework on the procedures, sanctions and measures applicable to economic administrative offences and amends dozens of sectorial laws relating to these activities, including the Industrial Property Code (approved by Decree-Law No. 110/2018 of December 10).
The acts of unfair competition and violation of protected trade secrets foreseen in the IP Code are now classified as very serious offences, which entails a considerable increase in the minimum fines applicable for small, medium and large enterprises.
According to the IP Code in force, any legal person who commits an unfair competition offence faces a minimum fine of 5000 Euros. With the new law the minimum fines will vary depending on the size of the company defined by the number of employees:
– microenterprise (less than 10 employees): 3000 Euros
– small enterprise (between 10 and 49 employees): 8000 Euros
– medium enterprise (between 50 and 249 employees): 16000 Euros
– large enterprise (250 or more workers): 24000 Euros.
The amendments will enter into force on 28 July 2021.