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Competencia

Denuncie / Defiéndase

Por: Lic. Aldo Enrique Cáder Camilot*

A partir de enero del año 2006, en El Salvador existen ciertas conductas empresariales que son prohibidas por la Ley de Competencia (LC), por considerar que limitan, obstaculizan o restringen la competencia, disminuyendo con ello la eficiencia económica y el bienestar de los consumidores. Esto, tomando como base el artículo 110 de la Constitución de la República, el cual prohíbe “las prácticas monopólicas” puesto que son contrarias a la libertad empresarial y al interés de los consumidores.

Las conductas genéricas prohibidas en la LC, como manifestación inequívoca del postulado constitucional antes señalado, son: los acuerdos entre competidores, las prácticas entre no competidores y los abusos de la posición dominante. Por principio de seguridad jurídica y legalidad, solo pueden conocerse las prácticas establecidas en la LC; a contrario, no pueden conocerse prácticas que no encajen en alguno de los tres supuestos anteriores.

Al respecto, si bien la Superintendencia de Competencia (SC) puede iniciar de oficio un procedimiento administrativo sancionador por una práctica anticompetitiva (artículo 13 letra “a” y 14 letra “c” de la LC), es importante que los agentes económicos que sufren una práctica anticompetitiva tipificada en LC presenten una denuncia ante la SC, puesto que muchas veces son los directamente involucrados quienes mejor conocen la situación. Oportuno resulta, entonces, referirse a este acto (la denuncia).

El Superintendente de Competencia tiene entre sus atribuciones y deberes la de conocer las denuncias que se le presenten, en las cuales se planteen situaciones en que pueda ser afectada la competencia en el mercado, siempre y cuando dicho aspecto esté tipificado. Esta denuncia tiene que reunir los requisitos normales que se exigen, por ejemplo, en sede judicial: es un escrito en el cual la persona o el agente económico afectado por la práctica tiene que señalar, básicamente, quién presenta la denuncia; contra quién se presente; cuál es la práctica; y por qué considera que es anticompetitiva.

En efecto, el artículo 62 del Reglamento de la Ley de Competencia prescribe que el denunciante tiene que escribir en la denuncia sus generales y señalar lugar o medio técnico para escuchar comunicaciones; las generales y domicilio del denunciado; una descripción precisa de los hechos constitutivos de la práctica anticompetitiva denunciada, especificándola conforme a la tipificación establecida en los artículo 25, 26 y 30 de LC. En relación con esto, el denunciante tiene que establecer los elementos que permitan circunscribir la práctica a un mercado específico, desde el punto de vista producto y geográfico y, en caso de conocerlo, señalar los agentes económicos que participan en el mismo; también, establecer los elementos que permitan inferir la posición dominante del denunciado, cuando se trata de un supuesto abuso de dicha posición; y, finalmente, debe relacionar e identificar los elementos probatorios que adjunta u ofrece presentar para acreditar su postura.

Es importante señalar que la denuncia puede ser presentada directamente por el agente económico y no necesariamente tiene que estar suscrita por un abogado que lo represente; sin embargo, por la complejidad técnica de la materia y por los formalismos esenciales de la denuncia, es recomendable la asesoría legal y económica en estos casos.

Bajo el supuesto que la denuncia reúna los requisitos formales esenciales y que el caso sea materia de la SC, se emitirá una resolución ordenando el inicio (la instrucción) del procedimiento administrativo sancionador; procedimiento que será impulsado oficiosamente por el Superintendente, con aplicación de los principios de dirección y ordenación procesal. No obstante, siempre es fundamental el acompañamiento del denunciante, sobre todo, en temas probatorios (presentación de pruebas).

Cambiando de perspectiva, es también importante referirse a la defensa que pueden ejercer los agentes económicos denunciados. Y es que resulta evidente que, en algunos casos, las denuncias pueden ser falsas o contener supuestos no prohibidos por la LC.

Los acusados de cometer una práctica anticompetitiva, pues, tienen el plazo de 30 días calendario para presentar sus argumentos de defensa (art. 45 inc. 2.° LC y arts. 67 y 86 de su Reglamento). En este plazo, además, el denunciado podrá desacreditar los hechos con argumentaciones jurídicas y económicas, pero también ofreciendo “los medios de prueba que considere pertinentes”, los cuales ayudarían a desvanecer las supuestas ilegalidades. Y es que el de competencia es un procedimiento administrativo con respeto del debido proceso y, por ello, se da la oportunidad de ejercer el derecho de audiencia y defensa del “imputado”.

Volviendo a las pruebas que pueden producirse dentro de la investigación, bien por la “partes” del procedimiento o de oficio la SC, encontramos que el Reglamento de la LC establece como medios de prueba –a manera ejemplificativa– a los testigos, los peritos, los documentos y el pliego de posiciones, que resultan ser medio probatorios tradicionales. Ahora bien, es posible incorporar también medios de prueba atípicos como la declaración de parte, medios de almacenamiento y reproducción de la imagen y el sonido, fotos, mapas, croquis, etc. No obstante lo anterior, es importante tomar en cuenta lo señalado en el artículo 46 del Reglamento citado, en cuanto a que el derecho a probar no es ilimitado: la SC controlará la pertinencia de los hechos que se quieren acreditar y la idoneidad del medio probatorio para los fines propuestos. El plazo probatorio es de 20 días hábiles.

Finalmente, la LC estipula en el artículo 45, inciso 3. °, que el análisis de las pruebas realizadas se hará bajo las reglas de la sana crítica. Dicha labor corresponde al Consejo Directivo de la SC al momento de emitir la resolución final, una vez que el expediente ha pasado por las etapas antes descritas (denuncia, defensa y plazo probatorio) y ha quedado debidamente integrado y ordenado.

 

  • El autor es abogado y notario. Licenciado en Ciencias Jurídicas por la Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas. Ex colaborador y secretario de la Sala de lo Constitucional. Tiene ya cinco años desempeñándose como Intendente de Investigaciones de la Superintendencia de Competencia y más de ocho años de trabajar en tal autoridad.

– Los comentarios en este artículo expresan la opinión del autor –

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