It is necessary to ensure continuous supervision of unfair trading practices in the food supply chain and to assess market activities in order to prevent restrictions or distortions of competition in this segment of the market. Under the Agriculture Act the Agency is the enforcement authority competent for the supervision of prohibited trading practices in the food supply chain (Articles 61f and 61g of the Agriculture Act) and to impose fines as an infringement authority. The Agency actively cooperates with the Ombudsman for Relations in the Food Supply Chain. The latter monitors the behaviour of stakeholders in the food supply chain and notifies the Agency of possible prohibited practices.
The Agriculture Act defines prohibited trading practices as those practices by which one party, which is an undertaking under the Competition Act, exploits the other contractual party, contrary to good commercial practice, by means of its significant market power, which is evident from the volume of sales or the annual turnover, in particular in relation to the other contractual party, and therefore exploits the other contractual party. A party shall be presumed to have significant market power if it is a buyer of goods and has generated an annual turnover of at least EUR 25 000 000 in the Republic of Slovenia in the preceding year.
Agriculture Act lists 23 prohibited trading practices:
- reimbursement for services not performed or for services performed but not agreed in writing and clearly in advance between the parties;
- reimbursement for the classification, maintenance or expansion of the range or products;
- reimbursement for placing products on shelves at points of sale, unless the parties agree in writing on the display of goods on specially exposed sales areas;
- charging for the promotion of goods, unless the parties agree in writing on the promotional services to be performed and the realization of which can be proven;
- reimbursement of costs for concluding the contract;
- contribution for the expansion of the trade sales network, improvement or rearrangement of existing points of sale, expansion of storage capacities, expansion of the distribution network and similar activities;
- the return of delivered but unsold products, as well as expired products, or the charging of refunds relating to those unsold goods, except for products which have been delivered for the first time or in the case of non-perishable goods;
- payment for goods that were not sold during the duration of the campaign, at purchase promotional prices;
- regular or disproportionate charging of a discount for the payment of invoices before the due date;
- charging compensation for a reduction in turnover, sales or margin due to reduced sales of certain goods;
- non-compliance with the payment deadlines referred to in Agricultural Act;
- non-acceptance of the agreed quantities of products in accordance with the agreed dynamics of purchase, if the latter deviates from the agreement by more than 25 percent;
- making the conclusion of a contract or business cooperation conditional on counter-supply on non-competitive terms;
- demand the exclusivity of the sale of individual goods, except for goods produced for sale under a trademark or at the request of a customer and according to the customer's specifications;
- making the conclusion or renewal of a contract or the taking over of products conditional on the production and supply of products for a trade mark which are considered to be interchangeable with the manufacturer's trademarks;
- requests the contracting parties not to sell the products to third parties at lower prices than those paid by the other contracting party;
- termination of orders for individual goods or significant reduction of the order without prior written notice within the period specified in the contract, where the deadline may not be set inappropriately;
- discriminatory or disproportionate charging of compensation for unloading the delivered goods;
- transfer of business risk to the supplying customer and charge compensation for sludge, spillage, damage, inventory shortage or theft after receipt of the products;
- the transfer of business risk to the customer after delivery for fines or other penalties imposed, unless the fine or other penalty imposed is due to a defect in the goods for which the supplier is responsible;
- imposing disproportionate or unfair contractual penalties;
- prohibition of assignment of receivables;
- non-fulfilment of obligations regarding the written form of the contract, conclusion of the contract before the delivery of goods and obligatory components of the contract.
As of 1st November 2021, the provisions of the Act Amending the Agriculture Act (ZKme-1F), published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 123/21 of 27 July 2021, will apply to prohibited trading practices in the food supply chain.
Agriculture Act (ZKme-1F): http://pisrs.si/Pis.web/pregledPredpisa?id=ZAKO4716 (unofficial consolidated text)