Interview conducted by Dr Pranvera Këllezi, Attorney at law in Geneva and member of the Swiss Competition Commission, and David Mamane, Partner, Schellenberg Wittmer, Zurich.
Switzerland has had a competition law since 1962. The creation of an independent federal administrative commission in 1996 (the Swiss Competition Commission—COMCO) with its investigative body of about 75 professionals (COMCO’s Secretariat) was a milestone in competition law enforcement. The interviewers had the pleasure to discuss current issues and trends in competition law enforcement with Professor Andreas Heinemann, president of the COMCO.
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the current Swiss Cartel Act and the organizational setup of the COMCO. What changed with the Cartel Act of 1995 that came into force in 1996? What are, in your view, the most important milestones over the last twenty-five years?
We have had competition laws before 1996, but they were full of loopholes, and the old institutions did not have the necessary powers. The Swiss economy was characterized by a large number of cartels that were disappearing only gradually. The Cartel Act of 1995 brought a paradigm shift: For the first time, the goal of the law was to protect effective competition. Precise rules have been formulated, and it is not possible any longer (except for the government) to justify restrictive behaviour based on public interest