Certain motor vehicle importers who trade in well-known models in Poland have changed their approach toward automobile repairs under warranty as a consequence of the activities of the Polish Competition Authority (UOKiK).

UOKiK conducted a market study in the automotive sector which showed potential shortcomings as regards the conditions of warranties. Some car importers require that car buyers only have their cars maintained at authorized repair shops, failing which they lose their warranty. According to UOKiK, such conduct might be contrary to European and Polish laws and could even be classified as an anticompetitive agreement between car importers and authorized repair shops. UOKiK has raised this issue with several undertakings, paving the way for a change in the way importers handle warranty claims. UOKiK did not have to launch formal proceedings to achieve this goal. The undertakings in question adjusted their conduct voluntarily upon hearing about UOKiK’s concerns.

This is a major development for both consumers and independent repair shops. It is also a clear warning for other market players that the Polish Competition Authority will not shy away from applying sector-specific regulation where needed. This development could not be more timely, as the European Commission is currently investigating the potential need to update its antitrust rules applicable to the motor vehicle industry.