On November 17, 2021, amendments to certain provisions of the Salvadoran Competition Law (the “Law”) were approved in order to harmonize it with the Administrative Procedures Law (“LPA”) during an ordinary session of the Salvadoran Congress. Given that, as of its entry into force on February 13, 2019, both the Antitrust Regulator (the “Regulator”) and the administered parties themselves had to interpret and integrate the competition law based on the regulation and administrative procedures established in the LPA now, greater legal certainty is expected with the application of the reforms.
For the proposed reforms, both the Ministry of Economy and the Regulator consulted with approximately 18 state institutions and certain sectors of the private sector. The amendments to the Law contemplate the modification of 19 sections, the repeal of 1 section and the incorporation of 5 new sections, which include both adjectival and procedural modifications. In addition to the homologation of the Law to the LPA, these reforms seek to reinforce healthy competition among the different economic agents as well as to foster a favorable climate for investment, all for the benefit of the consumers themselves.
Likewise, another important development is that it is intended to modernize the procedure with the use of electronic tools that will seek to adapt the regulations to current times given that certain actions would be carried out by electronic and technological means, in accordance with the provisions of the LPA, the Electronic Signature Law and any other applicable legislation, as long as such means guarantee the authenticity, confidentiality, integrity, efficiency, availability and conservation of the information. The foregoing in order to provide more agile procedures that adapt to the current legal framework.
Additionally, among some other points of interest that seek to improve the application of the Law is the express power for the Regulator to carry out the processing of merger requests; the power to issue provisional measures with greater scope than previously regulated in cases where there is a risk to the relevant market and a limitation to competition; regulation of the deadlines and different stages of the procedures and the establishment of the count in working days in line with the LPA, among others.
The Antitrust Regulator representatives have publicly stated that they are considering the presentation of fundamental reforms to the competition regulations, which they hope to carry out within the next year; therefore, it will be important to provide timely follow-up in the respective analysis and presentation process before the Economic Commission of the Salvadoran Congress, prior to their presentation to the plenary session for the corresponding approval.
Finally, it is important to mention that Legislative Decree No. 207, incorporating the referred reforms, is pending to be published in the Official Gazette and once published, its effects will enter into force 8 days after its publication.