On April 27, 2021, the ICA imposed a fine on Società Cooperativa Taxi Torino, a cooperative of taxi operators (hereinafter “Taxi Torino”), for abusing its dominant position in the market for the collection and sorting of taxi orders in the municipality of Turin (the “Decision”).[1] In particular, following a complaint submitted by a company that manages a mobile app connecting taxi drivers and consumers (Mytaxi Italia S.r.l.; “Mytaxi”), the ICA’s investigation focused on some clauses in Taxi Torino’s by-laws, which imposed a non-compete obligation on taxi drivers participating in Taxi Torino’s network and had the effect of foreclosing the market, also in light of Taxi Torino’s dominant position and the lack of actual competition.

The Decision follows a series of previous ICA decisions concerning anticompetitive practices of radio taxi companies, which foreclosed the entry of competing platforms in the market for the collection and sorting of orders for taxi services in other municipalities in Italy.[2] However, in contrast to previous decisions which focused on alleged infringement of Article 101 TFEU, the present case concerned an abuse of dominance by Taxi Torino.

The ICA’s findings

Considering that Taxi Torino comprised almost 90-95% of all taxi drivers operating in Turin, the ICA concluded that Taxi Torino’s non-compete clause resulted in an “absolute ban” on members of the cooperative joining competing platforms or even using their services on an occasional basis. According to the ICA, non-compete obligations on the taxi drivers would have been justified only to the extent that they aimed at protecting, immediately and directly, the members’ commitment to support the cooperative. However, Taxi Torino’s non-compete clause went way beyond this lawful objective and unduly restricted taxi drivers’ entrepreneurial freedom.

Moreover, compliance with the non-compete obligations was ensured by the threat of exclusion from the cooperative for non-complying operators. The ICA found that Taxi Torino enforced this provision at least six times between 2017 and 2018 against those taxi drivers that had downloaded a competing app and used it occasionally.

According to the ICA, Taxi Torino’s clauses hindered the development of new innovative tools for the management of taxi demand (such as the Mytaxi app), thus preventing entry in the market for taxi demand management services in Turin and impairing consumer choice.

The impact of COVID-19 on the amount of the fine

The ICA imposed on Taxi Torino a fine of approximately €46,000. In calculating the amount of the sanction, the ICA took into account the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the revenues of the cooperative’s members. Since demand for taxi services dropped dramatically during the pandemic (not only at the national level but also at the local level, decreasing by as much as 80%), the ICA reduced by 80% the fine that it would have otherwise imposed on Taxi Torino pursuant to its general methodology.

[1]              ICA, Decision of April 27, 2021, No. 29644, A521, Attività di intermediazione della domanda di servizi taxi nel comune di Torino.

[2]              ICA Decision of June 27, 2018, No. 27244, Case I801A, Servizio di prenotazione del trasporto mediante taxi – Roma; ICA Decision of June 27, 2018, No. 27245, Case I801B, Servizio di prenotazione del trasporto mediante taxi – Milano (both decisions closing cases relating to vertical agreements between radio taxi companies and taxi drivers); and ICA Decision of September 15, 2020, No. 28353, I832, Servizi di prenotazione del trasporto taxi – Napoli.