Our oversight style
Our oversight style is the way the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) carries out its tasks. The effect of our actions is central. Imposing sanctions on the violators is not our sole objective. We also wish to tackle the underlying causes of those violations, and to prevent repeat offenses. To that end, we are able to choose from a wide range of instruments: from fines to awareness campaigns. In most cases, we use a mix of instruments so that they enhance each other’s effects. Finding lasting solutions to market and consumer problems – that is our ultimate goal.
Our range of instruments
Fines are an important way to sanction violators. Fines can be as high as EUR 900,000 euro or 10% of the relevant turnover. However, ACM has many other instruments at its disposal, including:
Orders subject to periodic penalty payments
In order to end violations, we have the ability to impose orders subject to periodic penalty payments on companies. A company is given a deadline before which it must have adjusted its practices. If it fails to do so, it will have to pay the penalty payments until it has made the necessary adjustments.
If a company violates a statutory standard, we have the option of giving it a binding instruction. In the instruction, we explain how the law should be interpreted in practice.
Companies can make commitments to ACM, promising to adjust their practices in order to avoid further enforcement actions.
Issuing a warning, either in a meeting or an official letter, can be a fast way to make sure a company adjusts its practices, and to prevent further harm to consumers or other companies.
Education is an important instrument to make sure that businesses and other organizations comply with the rules. That is why we publish our decisions, vision documents, and interpretations of the rules on our website. We additionally publish studies and advisory papers such as market scans and informal opinions. Furthermore, it is also critical that consumers themselves take action. With consumer awareness campaigns on ConsuWijzer, we seek to influence consumer behavior.