Fine to the Canine Society for discriminating against the judges of the dogs
The CNMC imposes a sanction of almost 143,000 euros for making it difficult for other associations to enter the contests
The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) has sanctioned the Royal Canine Society of Spain (RSCE) with 142,996 euros for hindering the activity of rival associations and discriminating against canine judges. According to the CNMC, the RSCE has abused its dominant position to hinder the entry of other legal organizations to participate in various markets. The abuse has resulted both in the establishment of restrictions imposed on the owners of dogs from other associations to access the international market and in the restrictions imposed on their judges to participate in shows of other organizations. Both issues, according to Competition, are prohibited by article 2 of the Law for the Defense of Competition and article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
In October 2020, the CNMC, which is responsible for preserving the proper functioning of any sector, began an investigation into the actions of the RSCE for possible anti-competitive practices after receiving a complaint from the Real Club Español de Perro Alemán, which they joined other associations: the Kennel Club Spain, the National Association of Canine Breeders and Multiformation, and the Royal Spanish Hunting Federation.
In Spain, for a dog to be considered purebred, it must have a pedigree certificate. This certificate can be issued by any officially recognized canine association, after registering the animal in its genealogical registry, since the breed dog certification market was liberalized in Spain in 2001. However, in fact, only the RSCE is authorized to issue internationally recognized export certificates. This certificate ('export pedigree') is essential to be able to export dogs that can be registered as purebred dogs in the country of destination, given that, despite the liberalization mentioned, the RSCE is the only association whose certificates are internationally recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
Both the members of the FCI and the RSCE enable judges to participate in competitions and exhibitions that allow dogs to access categories that give them greater value. The results of these activities can increase the value of the dogs when they get prizes that are registered in their record. This, in turn, is reflected in the purchase prices of purebred dogs in Spain and abroad.
The limitations imposed by the RSCE on its judges to participate in exhibitions of competing associations have a potential impact on their entry into the market, which has been considered part of the abuse.
The CNMC has accredited that the RSCE has infringed the competition regulations for the following conduct:
-Impose owners of purebred dogs registered in other associations, in order to have an export certificate from the RSCE, their removal from the records of other competing associations and registration in the RSCE registry, with the payment of the corresponding rates.
-The rate discrimination and the erasure of the history and honors of the dogs registered in its registry that came from other associations, compared to those dogs originally registered in the RSCE registry. The data of their ancestors in the RSCE book are eliminated for dogs that are changed from registry, which generates a significant impact on their assessment. In addition, different prices are charged for the registration of dogs, depending on whether they are registered for the first time or come from the registries of other competing canine associations, without there being any justification for it.
-Discrimination consisting of the persecution, prohibition and sanction of canine judges trained and authorized by the RSCE (and other judges trained and authorized by other foreign canine associations that are members of the FCI) when they have tried to arbitrate or have arbitrated in events organized by other national competing canine organizations.
-The creation and use of an organizational structure of collaborating partners, collaborating clubs and friendly clubs, through the signing of exclusivity and non-competition agreements to reinforce its dominant position in the national and international genealogical certification markets compared to other canine associations competing nationals.
These behaviors have slowed the expansion of national canine organizations with their own purebred dog books and have reduced their income, by reducing the demand for purebred certificates requested from competing associations and increasing the income of the RSCE.
In addition, the RSCE has hampered the development of dog shows, competitions and events organized by competing canine associations and has reduced the number of canine judges available on the market.
Due to the foregoing, the CNMC has decided to impose a fine of 142,996 euros on the RSCE for the commission of a single and continuous very serious infringement of article 62.4. b) of Law 15/2007, of July 3, on the Defense of Competition.