Lithuanian president proposes tougher penalties for misleading advertising

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has proposed stepping up measures aimed at protecting consumers from misleading advertising and ensuring fair competition.

The president proposed linking the size of fines with a company’s turnover and issue fines of up to 3 percent of a company’s annual revenue but not more than 100,000 euros.

Repeated offenses would increase fines to up to 6 percent of the annual turnover but not more than 200,000 euros.

Currently, the maximum fine for misleading advertising is 8,700 euros.

“To ensure fair prices, small prices, it’s important to ensure fair competition in the country. These amendments are expected to be those instruments that will have direct impact on prices and their reduction. Moreover, these are instruments aimed at deterring unfair businesses from shadow deals and from misleading consumers and people,” presidential adviser Lina Antanaviciene told a press conference on Monday.

The president proposes amendments to the Law on Competition, stipulating their immediate payment or provision of bank guarantees.

Having met with the president on Monday, Sarunas Keserauskas, chairman of the Competition Council, said such changes would allow avoiding cases when years of litigation lead to the disappearance of the company involved and the fine’s recovery becomes impossible.

“If somebody is committing or plans to commit an offense, the size of a fine deters them from that. The existing fines provided for by the law have been too small and have not deterred anyone. A fine should be unavoidable, and there should be an understanding that if you do something, you will be held accountable,” Keserauskas told the press conference.

The Competition Council fined companies for misleading advertising 14 times in 2015-2017. The fined businesses included Cherry Media LT, operating the beta.lt coupon website (17.500 euros), Nemuno Vaistine, operating the Camelia drugstore chain (2 fines, 13.600 euros), Karolinos Turas and NT Partneriai (8,700 euros each), as well as Topo Grupe, Rimi Lietuva, Pigu and Electronic Trade.

Real estate developers have been recently fined for misleading advertising related to the sale of apartments.

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