parliment flags

In what is being hailed as landmark case in distribution law, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the ‘CJEU’) on 6 December 2017 gave a judgment confirming that luxury goods suppliers can ban sales through online marketplaces. The case brings some clarity to the law and may be greeted with a sigh of relief by luxury goods manufacturers. However, in reality, does it really change market practice? The case concerned the German luxury cosmetics brand Coty, and a –Read More–

In a decision dated 18 October 2017, the French Competition Authority (FCA) imposed a record fine on the “resilient floor covering cartel” (one of the seven biggest fines in the history of the FCA), totalling 302 million EUR. The cartel, composed of the three main resilient floor covering groups, Tarkett, Forbo and Gerflor, together with the floor covering trade union (SFEC), were sanctioned for wide-ranging anti-competitive practices including price fixing, some of which lasted for more than 20 years. The –Read More–

The EU State aid rules are designed to stop Governments and local authorities giving companies a selective advantage, as doing so would create an unequal playing field. Say for example, a competitor in one country was given a 10% subsidy by the Government whilst the company’s closest competitor in another country was not given the same subsidy. It is likely the latter would not be able to compete effectively and could be driven out of business. These State aid rules –Read More–

On 27 October 2017, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had launched investigations into several hotel booking websites on the grounds that they were potentially misleading consumers. Specifically, the CMA had concerns regarding: the manipulation of search results once a consumer had entered their hotel search criteria, particularly hotels who paid more commission to the website being ranked higher; creating false impressions as to room availability to rush consumer decision making; advertising misleading discounts that may –Read More–

Effective 8 June 2017, the 9th Amendment to the German Act against Restraints of Competition delegated more competences and ways to investigate to the Bundeskartellamt (German Federal Cartel Office — FCO) with respect to consumer protection, affecting especially retail businesses and digital markets. Since its founding in 1958, the FCO was called upon when talking mergers, cartels or competition regulation in general. Although its decisions could be challenged in court, it was the first arbiter to approve or prohibit mergers or certain –Read More–

The case itself is a judgement of 5 October 2017, following a request for a preliminary ruling from a regional court in Lithuania to the ECJ. The question submitted was essentially should a private company established by the Lithuanian state railway company, which independently carried out business in the private sector (in this case that business being providing rolling stock repair services to the state railway company) be considered a contracting authority? The ECJ was also asked this question on –Read More–

The CMA ,the UK’s main competition regulator, launched an investigation on 26th September 2017 into home insurance price comparison website, compare the market .com, over its use of most favoured nation clauses (“MFN”) and whether their use constituted an infringement of the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the TFEU. This investigation follows the publication of a final report in the CMA’s market study into digital comparison tools. Over the last year the CMA –Read More–

Following the French Economy Minister’s claim against Expedia in 2013, the Paris Court of Appeals, by decision dated 21 June 2017, heavily fined this Online Travel Agency (OTA), considering that certain provisions in the contracts between Expedia and its hotel partners created a “significant imbalance” between the parties under Article L. 442-6, I, 2° of the French Commercial Code. The dispute originates from 2011 when Expedia was subject to an inquiry by the DGCCRF (the French competition and consumer frauds authority). –Read More–

On 5 September 2017, the CMA released new guidance regarding its Mergers Intelligence Function and the informal guidance it can give parties who are considering whether to submit their merger for formal deliberation by the CMA. This relatively new process confers great advantages for companies with border the thresholds for notification or mergers which do trigger thresholds but the parties activities do not overlap. Parties can seek an informal opinion of no-interest using the merger intelligence unit of the CMA. –Read More–

On 29 August 2017, Law No. 124 of 2017 entered into force and amended Section 16 (1) of Law No. 287 of 1990 (the Italian competition law) that provides for prior notification system of all mergers and acquisitions in Italy which fall within certain thresholds. As of 29 August 2017, a concentration has to be notified to the Italian Competition Authority when it meets the new cumulative conditions below: (i) The aggregate turnover in Italy of all undertakings involved exceeds –Read More–

On 13 July 2017 the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced the imposition of fines amounting up to €9.6M on three European heat shield manufacturers for the automotive industry. A fourth company involved in the agreement was not fined since its cooperation helped disclose the existence of the cartel and provide essential evidence in the investigation, which commenced in 2013. In 2011, the four automotive suppliers agreed on sharing highly sensitive economic information with respect to a common client, a –Read More–

On the 13th September 2017 Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, unveiled a framework for investment screening for certain foreign mergers in his “State of the Union” address to the European Parliament. At the same time the text of a proposed Council Regulation was published which set out inmore detail the proposed new EU system. These proposals are similar in nature to those proposed by the UK in the Queen’s speech a few months ago. This proposal had been widely –Read More–

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to set out her vision for Brexit during her highly-anticipated speech in Florence on September 22 Partner and Head of the EU & UK Competition Team at Bryan Cave, Robert Bell, commented in an article in Law360 on September 20 as to what businesses will be wanting to hear and seek clarity on from the Prime Minister’s address. He explains, “The business community’s primary concern with the whole Brexit process is the uncertainty –Read More–

On 12th September 2017  the UK competition authority, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) sent an open letter to businesses in the creative industries sector warning them about price fixing and information sharing, emphasising that this type of illegal behaviour will not be tolerated. The CMA’s experience derived from a recent cartel case and research into the creative sector. This showed that while the creative sector is an important and rapidly growing part of the UK economy, estimated to be –Read More–

French cosmetics company Caudalie had previously made headlines in a case decided on February 2nd 2016. In that case, Caudalie had applied for an injunction against an online marketplace to compel it to cease selling Caudalie products, but the Paris Court of Appeal had rejected the claim, thus limiting the possibility for suppliers using selective distribution networks to impose an outright ban on marketplace retailers carrying their products (see our May 2016 EU & Competition Law Update). On June 8th –Read More–

On June 9, 2017, the 9th amendment of the German Act against Restraints of the Competition (GWB) came into effect. The most significant changes affect the liability for cartel fines, the application of merger control and the compensation for cartel damages. Extended liability for cartel fines While the European sanctions law determines the subject for cartel fines through the “economic entity” model, German law would only impose fines on the legal person that was directly involved in the infringement. The –Read More–

On the 14th August 2017, it was widely reported in the UK press how Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, is preparing to unveil EU foreign takeover controls at a keynote speech in September. Such a system would be similar to CFIUS, the USA’s Committee on Foreign Investment. In the USA, the CFIUS mechanism allows the USA to block foreign takeovers when they could threaten USA strategic interests. This in the past has gone as far as technology companies, but –Read More–

The CMA published on 16th June its final version of its Merger De Minimis Guidelines following earlier consultation with stakeholders. The Guidelines set out the criteria which the CMA will have regard to when exercising its discretion under UK merger control legislation to clear mergers in small markets. Under the Enterprise Act 2002 the CMA is under a statutory duty to refer a completed or anticipated relevant merger situation to an in-depth Phase 2 investigation where it believes that it –Read More–

Introduction The UK Government’s Brexit strategy took another step forward on 13th July 2017 with the publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, commonly referred to as the “Great Repeal Bill”. There was not much of a fanfare for the publication of this piece of legislation which is largely procedural. But, make no mistake, this is a seminal moment in the UK’s constitutional history and the Bill is likely to be rated as one of the most significant pieces of –Read More–

On 11 July 2017, Ofcom, the UK Communications regulator, issued a statement relating to the forthcoming mobile spectrum auction for 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands. The auction is to make available additional spectrum to facilitate the provision of 4G/5G connectivity and is driven by the increased popularity of band hungry mobile data services. Ofcom’s concerns centre on the possible adverse effect to competition on the mobile market which may result if restrictions are not placed upon which operators can bid –Read More–