parliment flags

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–

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–

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–

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–

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–

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–

On 12th December 2016 the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) launched a market study into the residential mortgage market to ascertain whether competition in that market is working as well as it could and to identify possible measures to improve competition to the the benefit of consumers. The market study is being conducted pursuant to the FCA’s regulatory powers under the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”). The launch of the market study follows the FCA’s Call for Inputs –Read More–

On 12 December the European Commission imposed a total fine of 166 million euros against 3 rechargeable battery producers for infringing competition law in the distribution of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the most common type of batteries used in mobile phones, tablets and laptops. The anti-competitive price-fixing agreement dates back to February 2004. For almost 4 years, the 3 Japanese companies agreed on temporary price increase between 2004 and 2007 over cobalt, a material used in the production of lithium-ion batteries, –Read More–

On 22 November 2016, the Competition Market Authority (CMA) announced the opening of an initial investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in relation to the supply of auction services in the UK. The CMA announced that this investigation will focus on both suspected anti-competitive agreements and the suspected abuse of dominance, specifically, suspected exclusionary and restrictive pricing practices including most favoured nations provisions in respect to online sales. Although the CMA did not name the companies under investigation, it –Read More–

Businesses that breach competition law can face serious financial and reputational consequences. Certain serious breaches of competition law may also put individuals at risk of criminal prosecution. In addition, the CMA may apply to Court for a director disqualification order against directors of a companies engaged in anti-competitive behaviour. For the first time, the CMA sought to use its power under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. On 1st December 2016, Daniel Aston, managing director of the online poster supplier –Read More–

On the 7th November 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a campaign to remind online sellers that agreeing and discussing price level with competitors is illegal and can result in serious penalties. In the context of Black Friday, Christmas and the January sales promotions, this was a salutary lesson. The CMA has warned online sellers against price fixing after finding evidence of collusion by sellers using internet marketplaces. On 12th August 2016, the CMA held that two –Read More–

On 19 October 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued an important judgment concerning the German law on fixing prices of retail prescription drugs. In the case before the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, the German Parkinson’s Disease Association teamed up with the Dutch mail-order pharmacy DocMorris to obtain better terms for German patients. In Germany there is a uniform retail price on medicinal products sold to patients in Germany, irrespective whether they are sold online –Read More–

On 18 July 2016, Germany moved another step closer to enshrining a right for distributors in selective distribution systems to sell over online marketplaces. This is not sudden move by the German courts, in fact we have reported similar stories in May 2014 and September 2014. The current matter is a request from a German Court for a preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court asked several questions relating to the interpretation of Article 101 of the –Read More–

The 13 July 2016 saw the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announce that it had sent a questionnaire to a large sample of hotels throughout the UK. As part of a joint monitoring project with the European Commission, this project has also been launched by several competition agencies in the EU. The purpose of the project is to study how changes to hotel room pricing policies and a variety of other investigations have affected the online hotel booking sector. In –Read More–

On 21 April 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published an open letter to estate agents in the UK stressing the importance of making independent commercial decisions and warning them against unlawful collaboration in breach of competition law. It was brought to the CMA’s attention that various estate agents were entering into collective decisions to market properties solely on the OnTheMarket Portal and to remove themselves from all other competing portals, including Rightmove and Zoopla. The CMA raises concerns –Read More–

On 26 April 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) confirmed, following settlement, that it will issue a formal infringement decision to bathroom fittings manufacturer Ultra Finishing Limited (“Ultra”) following investigations opened back in August 2014 into suspected vertical price restraints in place between suppliers and resellers. In our previous update on this issue, we reported that the CMA had, on 28 January 2016, disclosed provisional findings of anti-competitive behaviour in a Statements of Objections. In response, Ultra stated that –Read More–

On 22 April 2016, the European Commission (“EC”) invited industry comment on the commitments proposed by Paramount Pictures International Limited (“Paramount”) in response to concerns raised by the EC. The EC’s concerns were that many of its contractual clauses in licensing agreements with Sky UK Limited (“Sky”) concerning cross-border access to pay-TV content may contravene Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The EC published a Statement of Objections on 27 July 2015 which highlights –Read More–

On the 18th of March 2016, the EU Commission published initial findings from its e-commerce sector inquiry. The initial findings show a widespread use of geo-blocking throughout retailers in the EU. The findings reaffirm the Commission’s focus on this area and may lead to actions by the Commission later this year. Geo-blocking is the practice of blocking online sales across borders by redirecting international customers back to their own domestic websites or blocking the use of foreign delivery addresses or –Read More–

On 18 March 2016, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) published only the second case to be brought under the new fast track procedure before the CAT under the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The fast track procedure was designed to allow individuals and SMEs a quick and more cost effective way of enforcing their competition rights against big business. It was also a rare case involving the enforceability of land use restrictions which seldom come before the Courts. –Read More–

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