Nesrine Roudane Navigates Morocco’s Evolving Competition Laws 

In a significant stride toward fostering fair market practices and safeguarding consumer interests, Morocco recently implemented crucial amendments to its competition laws. Join LegalcommunityMENA in this insightful interview with Nesrine Roudane, Partner and Head of the Casablanca office at Al Tamimi & Company.  

A seasoned legal professional with extensive expertise in business law, Nesrine shares her profound insights into the key provisions of the Dahir amendments to Moroccan Competition Law, offering businesses a roadmap for compliance and success in this evolving legal landscape.  

Let’s dive into the key amendments to Moroccan competition laws. Can you elaborate on how the recent changes aim to redefine economic concentration? 

Absolutely. The recent amendments significantly expand the notion of economic concentration by incorporating multiple operations within a two-year period between the same entities or companies. This change allows for a more comprehensive assessment of transactions, ensuring a change in control is captured effectively. 

The amendments introduce a notification fee for concentration operations. How does this economic aspect impact the notification process, and what considerations should businesses keep in mind? 

The introduction of a notification fee adds a financial dimension to the process. Businesses undergoing concentration operations are now required to pay a fee for the examination of their dossier. This measure encourages careful evaluation of the economic feasibility of proposed concentrations and ensures efficient use of the Competition Council’s resources. 

Transparency and efficiency seem to be at the forefront of these changes. Could you shed light on how the amendments streamline decision-making processes and enhance transparency? 

The amendments grant the Competition Council the authority to issue guiding principles, providing clarity on competition matters. Additionally, decisions are now required to be communicated promptly to involved parties and the government commissioner, ensuring transparency in the Council’s actions. 

The amendments emphasize protecting trade secrets during the notification process. How has the law addressed this concern, and what measures are in place? 

To safeguard trade secrets, the law establishes clear measures during the notification process. If disputes arise on this matter, parties have the right to appeal decisions to the Competition Council’s president within 20 days of notification, ensuring a fair resolution process. 

How do these amendments impact the timeframe for providing opinions and consultations by the Competition Council? 

The amendments extend the period for providing opinions and consultations to 60 days, with a shorter deadline of 30 days in urgent cases. This extension, coupled with the introduction of expedited procedures, ensures a more balanced and flexible approach to decision-making. 

We’ve touched on the economic aspects and procedural enhancements. Can you delve into the legal mechanisms introduced by the amendments, especially those related to decision-making and appeals? 

The amendments empower the Competition Council to suspend the 60-day period within which it must render a decision on a concentration operation, allowing for careful assessment in complex cases. Moreover, parties involved now have an obligation to complete the concentration process within two years from the authorization granted by the Council or the administration, promoting timely execution. 

In specific situations, the Council is given the option to abandon the in-depth examination of a notified operation, providing flexibility and focusing resources on cases with greater relevance. 

The introduction of Deputy Government Commissioners further strengthens the Council’s structure, and the Council is now authorized to issue directives to provide clarity on competition matters. These directives, published on its electronic site, serve as valuable resources for businesses navigating competition laws. 

With these changes, how does the Moroccan government balance encouraging economic concentration for growth while preventing anti-competitive practices? 

The amendments strike a delicate balance by promoting economic concentration for growth while introducing mechanisms to prevent anti-competitive practices. The clear criteria for determining the maximum amount of pecuniary sanctions and identifying aggravating circumstances ensure consistency and fairness in sanctioning practices. 

Furthermore, the Competition Council is mandated to issue its decisions within one month from the close of hearings, providing certainty and stability to market players. 

What role does the President play in representing the Competition Council, and how do these amendments empower or delegate authority within the Council’s leadership? 

The President plays a crucial role in representing the Council before both national and international bodies, and the amendments empower them to take legal actions on behalf of the Council. This authority can be delegated to a Vice-President when necessary, streamlining operations. 

Looking at the broader landscape, how do you see these amendments positioning Morocco in the global competition law framework? 

These amendments position Morocco as a jurisdiction committed to establishing a robust and competitive market environment. By aligning with international best practices, Morocco seeks to enhance transparency, efficiency, and consumer protection in the marketplace. This, in turn, contributes to a more attractive and reliable environment for both domestic and international businesses. 

In conclusion, what advice would you offer to businesses navigating these amended competition laws in Morocco? 

Businesses should stay informed about these updated provisions to ensure compliance. It’s crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of proposed concentration operations, considering the economic feasibility and implications. Engaging with legal experts to navigate the nuances and evolving landscape of competition laws will be instrumental in ensuring a smooth and compliant business journey in Morocco. 

About Nesrine Roudane  

Nesrine, Partner and Head of the Casablanca office at Al Tamimi & Company since 2022, previously served as Managing Partner at Roudane & Partners, a firm she founded in 2008. With a background as an associate at a major Moroccan/French international law firm, Nesrine specializes in business law.   

As a Casablanca Bar lawyer, she advises and represents Moroccan and foreign entities in diverse legal matters, offering extensive expertise in civil, commercial, and criminal litigation. She is also recognized for her role as an arbitrator and commercial mediator accredited by various institutions, including the Casablanca Court of Appeals and WIPO.  

Throughout her career, Nesrine has actively contributed to the resolution of international commercial disputes and conducted mediation procedures, all while dedicating herself to educating corporate leaders on Moroccan legal compliance. She is also President of the Startup and Venture Capital Commission at the International Union of Lawyers (UIA).