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Competition Law Enforcement and Public Contracts Procurement in Italy: The School Cleaning Services Case

Michele Giannino


The focus lies on the School Cleaning Service case, recently decided by the Italian antitrust enforcers, concerning a bid rigging scheme that affected the procurement of public contracts. To establish a bid rigging scheme, the Italian Competition Authority must meet an evidentiary onus similar to one required by the European Commission. It has then to prove the anomalous bidding patterns, the lack of alternative plausible explanation for such conducts and the exchange of sensitive information between the colluders. Initially, the Italian Competition Authority found that a consortium of operators and three other firms breached Article 101 TFEU for collusion and imposed an impressive €113 million fine. On appeal, an administrative court set aside the infringement decision against one of the colluders that succeeded in proving that its bidding strategies had a rational explanation in the saving of startup and labour costs. The appeal judge also reduced the fines levied on the other cartelists because the Italian Competition Authority wrongly calculated the basic amount of the fines and misapplied the aggravating factor of the secrecy of the anti-competitive agreement.
Keywords: Enforcement; Public Contracts; Procurement; Antitrust; Collusion; Anomalous Bidding; School Cleaning Services.

Dr Michele Giannino LLM (Leicester), PhD (London), Dip (ITM), Italian qualified lawyer. DOI: 10.21552/epppl/2017/1/7


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