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CMF Discusses LIDL

It is “in the name of truth” – states the Mayor of Funchal, Pedro Calado – “this is what is going on with LIDL.”

“1- The JPP publicly announced in October of this year that it intended to have access to all documents relating to the licensing of the various stores of the company LIDL & Companhia, in the city of Funchal.

2- Aware of this reality, on 02-11-2023, the law firm LIDL, through the law firm ABREU ADVOGADOS, filed a request with the Funchal City Hall (CMF), where it expressly and clearly requested this municipality not to provide the information sought by the JPP, under several arguments, which we quote:

“… The classification of this information is justified by the danger that its disclosure poses to the establishment of effective competition between economic operators in the food and non-food retail sectors.

However, business secrecy aims to prevent confidential information from being exploited and the competition rules from being distorted, by preventing certain undertakings from obtaining information from the Administration of secrets held by other undertakings, such as commercial strategies, expansion or development of their businesses.”

3- In other words, it was LIDL that requested the Funchal City Council not to provide the JPP with the elements requested by the latter, as it did not want its trade secrets to be publicly revealed and fall into the hands of the competition.

4- From the request submitted by LIDL to the Funchal City Council, the position of this municipality was always very clear: “It would provide all the elements requested by the JPP, as long as LIDL authorized it, so as not to run the risk of incurring civil and criminal liability with the company, through the handing over of sensitive information to third parties.

5- THe JPP never submitted any authorisation from LIDL to obtain the requested information.

6- Given LIDL’s policy secrecy stance, the Funchal City Council informed the JPP that without LIDL’s authorisation it would only deliver the required documents by court decision.

7- The JPP went to the Court, and this Chamber responded in the opposition, expressly saying that it would provide all the elements as long as the Court ordered it and that it had not done so earlier, because LIDL had opposed it.

8- Faced with this position of the CMF, the Court ordered the intervention of LIDL, which came to praise the behaviour of the CMF and to strictly oppose the content of its licensing processes being made public.

9- The problem started to be fought only between LIDL and the JPP,  when the CMF refused to hand over the information the JPP wanted.

10- The CMF didn’t want to be accused by LIDL of revealing its trade secrets, incurring future civil and criminal liability, which ultimately could harm Funchal taxpayers.

11- After the exchange of arguments between the JPP and the LIDL, the Court decided this and nothing more:

“I order the Respondent Entity to, within 10 days, provide a copy of the applications submitted by the counter-interested party LIDL & Company, letters sent by the Respondent Entity, and any information prepared by the services of the Funchal City Council, in the prior information procedures concluded nos. 2022000152 and 20220000026”.

12- In other words, the court essentially agreed with LIDL, since in the proceedings still in progress nothing was authorised to be transferred to the JPP. As for the cases that have been concluded, only copies of the applications submitted by that company, letters sent by this Chamber, and any information prepared by the services of the Municipality and nothing more than that, can be delivered, economic studies, financial information, commercial strategies, business techniques, contracts with third parties and their costs cannot be divulged.

13- The Funchal City Council, because it has always said that it would respect the will of LIDL or the decision of the Court, contacted that company yesterday in order to find out if it could immediately comply with the decision in court, having received as an answer that it should not do so, for the time being, since although the court decision had been essentially favourable to it, I was considering filing an appeal against it, whose deadline ends on 02/01/2024, as I did not want any elements of its business, no matter how simple and insignificant they may be, to be provided to third parties.

14- The Chamber cannot execute the Court’s decision without it becoming final and unappealable and will therefore wait for the LIDL to take its position.

Samantha Gannon

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