parliment flags

In a ruling which is likely to have positive implications for a possible Brexit deal, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the 16 May 2017 opened up the ability of the EU institutions to negotiate free trade agreements without the approval of individual Member State legislatures. The case, which involved a Singapore-EU trade deal agreed some years ago but not yet ratified, is being seen as a blueprint for a way to get a future Brexit deal through the EU –Read More–

On the 10 May 2017, the EU Commission announced the end of their e-commerce sector inquiry. What is notable about the end of this inquiry is the lack of policy or new legislation following it. The Commission have ruled out any amendment of the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption, due for renewal in 2022. However, on an ominous note for some, the Commission have stated that following the conclusion of the inquiry, there will be further antitrust investigations into certain companies. –Read More–

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has published new commentary to inform companies on how it assess retail mergers. The commentary should be read by any retailer considering merging with a competitor in the UK. On 10 April 2017, the CMA published new commentary on how they will assess retail mergers. The commentary is an update to a 2011 publication by the then Office of Fair Trading. The CMA felt that it had assessed a lot of retail mergers –Read More–

Critics of the EU referendum result in June last year likened the vote by the U.K. to leave the European Union as the “apocalyptical” opening of Pandora’s box. But whilst the predictions of doom and gloom for the U.K. economy have not materialized (or at least …yet) there is something about the U.K.’s tortuous journey out of the European Union which never fails to surprise. The country spent over six months debating whether the government or Parliament had the authority –Read More–

We have followed over the last years Europe grappling with the issue of most favoured nation clauses and hotel booking. Our last update regarded a joint monitoring project between the CMA and the European Commission, designed to monitor hotel prices and commission rates, following a series of interventions by the regulators: http://eu-competitionlaw.com/regulatory-scrutiny-of-online-hotel-booking-continues/ On 6 April 2017, the European Commission declared that it had ended this stage of the monitoring and published its results. The Commission (and the 10 national competition –Read More–

A key issue regulators are grappling with is what antitrust liability can attach to retailers who use price matching software or other algorithms to match competitors’ online prices? In a speech made on 16 March 2017, the EU’s Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, confronted the growing issue of the use of price matching software (PMS) and algorithms. The Commissioner singled out automated systems that monitor and even adjust prices automatically across the internet as a main area of concern for –Read More–

On Monday 20 March 2017, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced a campaign to encourage whistle-blowers to come forward and expose cartels. The campaign is going to target social media and key websites. It is part of the CMA’s renewed focus on enforcement and comes as the CMA attempts to educate the general public of the harm of cartels. Most strikingly, the campaign also acknowledges that the CMA is willing to give cash rewards of up to £100,000 –Read More–

We are used to companies being fined for cartels acting undercover to agree on prices or other market parameters. What about companies openly agreeing together through a joint venture company? On November 8, 2016, the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) overruled a decision of the Court of Appeal of Paris regarding horizontal agreements set up among French millers through two joint venture companies for the purpose of co-marketing their products, one of which sold flour to the retail industry, –Read More–

Those aficionados of the silver screen will remember comedians Laurel and Hardy and in particular their catchphrase ‘Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into’. Well that seems to be an appropriate ‘epitaph’ for the challenges and issues that UK procurement legislation faces after Brexit. Most of the complex laws and regulations around the tendering of major public contracts derive from EU law. Removing the supremacy of EU law and the binding nature of the Court of Justice of –Read More–

Is BT a service provider, or an infrastructure owner? Failure to properly deal with this question during its privatisation in 1984 has been a source of numerous allegations by rivals about margin squeeze and unfair cross subsidisation, particularly over unbundling the local loop. True and effective competition within the UK telecoms market is not possible without a network in third party ownership. Ofcom’s proposals In July 2016, Ofcom set out its competition concern that BT has the ability and incentive –Read More–

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of private competition claims in the European Union. The Claimants’ Guide to Antitrust/Competition Litigation in the European Union provides an overview of the process for recovering compensation for breaches of competition law before the national courts of an EU Member State as well as the likely impact of Brexit on such actions. Please follow this link to read the guide.  

On 21 December 2016, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down an interesting interpretation of jurisdictional issues in cross-border competition law and online sales. The ECJ ruled that courts of a Member State have jurisdiction to hear an action to establish liability for infringement of a prohibition on sales via marketplace websites based outside such State where such sales are alleged to have harmed the party in the first Member State. On 16 March 2012, “Concurrence”, a French retailer –Read More–

On 1 July 2016, the German Ministry for Economic Affairs published a draft bill for the 9th amendment of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen – GWB). The draft bill addresses numerous topics which have been subject to intensive discussions in German competition policy and will bring material changes to German antitrust law. 1. Expanded system of sanctions and fines One of the main pillars of the 9th amendment of the GWB is the introduction of –Read More–

The City of London Law Society Competition Committee has just published its response to the CMA Consultation on “Mergers: Exception to the duty to refer in markets of insufficient importance”. The Committee argue for the adoption of a single de minimis threshold, the level of which should be set at least £15 million, substantially above the current lower threshold of £3 million. Please follow this link to read the full response. Robert Bell is a Partner and Head of EU & Competition –Read More–

One of the advantages of Brexit is that the UK will be free to agree its own trade deals with the rest of the world for the first time in nearly 50 years. However, until the UK formally leaves the European Union the EU Commission in Brussels has exclusive competence to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the European Union. So whilst the UK can commence trade talks, it is not allowed under its international treaty obligations with the other –Read More–

On January 12, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), collectively the “Agencies” issued an update to the 1995 Antitrust Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property (IP) (the 2017 Guidelines and the 1995 Guidelines, respectively). The 1995 Guidelines set forth the Agencies’ analytical framework on how it assessed the antitrust ramifications of IP-related actions. The 2017 Guidelines incorporate changes, from the past twenty years, in regulations, antitrust jurisprudence, the Agencies’ –Read More–

On 2 February 2017, the EU Commission simultaneously launched three investigations into the e-commerce sector. What is significant about this latest development is that it shows that e-commerce is a clear priority area in antitrust enforcement, and that the Commission is willing to attack perceived anti-competitive practices head-on. The investigations focus on (1) video games, (2) hotel price discrimination and (3) consumer electronics manufacturing. The video games inquiry is directed at the largest PC game distribution platform, Steam, and its –Read More–

Reverse cross border mergers could become a popular device for UK companies seeking to maintain and preserve “passporting” or other EU rights. The mechanism of a reverse cross-border merger (in this context whereby a UK parent company merges with their continental European subsidiary) has not historically been permitted under English law. However the provisions of an EU directive implemented in the UK in 2007 changed that position giving UK company groups that option. The reverse cross border merger mechanism was designed –Read More–

On January 13, 2017, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ,” collectively the “U.S. Agencies”) issued an update to the 1995 Antitrust Enforcement Guidelines for International Operations (the “2017 Guidelines and the “1995 Guidelines,” respectively). The 1995 Guidelines set out for international businesses the U.S. Agencies’ international antitrust/competition law enforcement policy, including but not limited to how it cooperates with other antitrust/competition law authorities and how it utilizes its investigative –Read More–

In 2016, Carwow a new car portal, which introduces customers to dealers for the purchase of cars, complained to the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) that BMW UK was prohibiting its dealers from listing their new BMW and MINI cars on the portal. It asked the CMA to launch an investigation into whether this restriction was anti-competitive and breached EU or UK competition law. Online comparison tools can help promote competition in many markets and assist consumers to make informed –Read More–

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