One of the novelties of the Competition Act 15/2007 of 3 July 2007 was the introduction into our legal system of leniency programmes, akin to those successfully used in the United States and European Union. Leniency programmes are a powerful tool for competition authorities in detecting cartels, the most harmful of anti-competitive conducts.
Leniency can benefit companies that submit evidence that makes it possible for the CNC to detect a cartel, provided those companies were not instigators of the cartel and no longer engage in the prohibited conduct.
For companies in the cartel, the leniency programme serves as a valid way out, because, if they meet certain requirements, they can benefit from immunity from or a reduction in the fines that would have been applied to them for participating in the prohibited agreement.
Under the programme, companies have to be very diligent in submitting their requests for leniency, because exemption from payment of the fine is only granted to the first company. The reductions in the fine are progressively scaled down for the second and ensuing companies that apply for leniency.