The financial sector is strictly regulated and is among those that The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (“UOKiK”) often investigates.
In keeping with its mission to protect consumers, UOKiK regularly reviews the regulations and contract templates offered to customers by insurers, banks and other financial institutions. UOKiK also evaluates whether the commercial communications made by such entities are fair. To improve the protection of consumers from being misled when purchasing financial products, the regulations that prohibit violations of collective consumer interests were recently made more precise, and UOKiK gained authority to perform ‘mystery client’ checks.
To a large extent, UOKiK’s recent involvement in the financial services sector has focused on possible violations of the consumer law. It is important, however, that companies in this sector are vigilant in complying with the competition rules and regulations as well. For instance, a merger, acquisition of control or establishment of a joint-venture may require the prior consent of UOKiK or the European Commission.
UOKiK and the EC may challenge various forms of cooperation between competing financial institutions as being illegal competition-restricting agreements. For example, UOKiK and other Competition Authorities have challenged certain arrangements between banks and card organizations which have led to the filing of numerous civil damage actions.
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