TSU, 107 | Moderation: Prof. G. Jovanovic - 9.30-9.55

Georgian Competition Law in transition and European legal transplants

Giorgi Tsertsvadze (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University)

Competition as a “rivalry in the market”1 did not have a place in planned economy. This new field of law in Georgia is as young as in its neighbor countries from the region.2 “ The period since 1989 has witnessed an unprecedented process of economic, political and social transformation in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and of the former Soviet Union.”3 Competition has been a part of this transition from the very beginning of the history. One may argue without any exaggeration: there are no other provisions in Georgian law that are more influenced by political instability and changes happening during the last twenty-five years. "Anti-Monopoly" issues – as it was called in the late nineties in Georgia has become a subject of hard discussions since 2004.

Time for significant changes came quite later: the new Competition Law was enacted in May 2012 and drastically changed in March 2014.4 The first important result of the amendments followed immediately and the National Competition Agency was created. In August 2015 the Agency has announced the results of 8 months research and issued fines USD 55 million for gas station companies asserting they were involved in cartel relations for last 10 years.5 In September 2016 the Agency announced the commencement of the research and investigation of activities accomplished by Apple Inc. products resellers in Georgia. One of the players of the market claimed the others were operating as a cartel triggering damages for its business activities.6

The examples mentioned above apparently evidence the increasing role of competition law provisions in Georgian business. Accordingly, the market offers new challenges to the lawyers of the new generation to get some knowledge of the field. However, due to the circumstances described above Competition law has never been a part of the curricula for Georgian law schools. One doctoral dissertation written by a member of the Tbilisi State University law faculty is not able to impact the poor academic environment in the field. 7 Taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts, there is a very urgent need of the Competition law research, which could help Georgian law teachers and students to overcome the significant lack of expertise and teaching materials in the field. Approval of my application could serve as a good chance to fill this gap in Georgian competition law providing the modern teaching and study source for those who may be interested in this.

Competition and its legal aspects has been a part of European regulations and treaties since the establishment of the Cool and Steel Community in 1951.8 Basedow determines four development phases of the European competition law: after the creation phase in the early fifties the pioneer phase has followed and lasted until the end of seventies. Expansion phase has played its significant role and helped to prepare a new post-soviet phase, which has not been finished yet.9 Being beyond of those historical developments Georgia has got a challenge to revolutionary adopt and follow the trends of European competition law. One may argue that this goal has been achieved to some extent with amendments enforced in 2014.]

Defining goals of Georgian competition law shall help to focus on those topics extremely relevant for Georgian reality.  The idea itself that the goal of the competition law provisions is to protect welfare and prosperity and not a single competitor operating on the market,27 might not be meaningless from Georgian Perspective.