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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–

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 the 25th May 2016, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) issued a statement of objections to five of Britain’s most prestigious modelling agencies alleging an infringement of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The CMA’s investigation, which was launched back in March 2014, has revealed that the five prominent agencies may have exchanged sensitive and confidential competitive information and colluded to fix prices –Read More–

On 23 May 2016, the Chancery Division of the UK High Court of Justice handed down judgment in the case Iiyama Benelux BV and others v Schott AG and others [2016] (“the Iiyama case”) and held that claims for cartel damages arising from purchases of goods from outside the EU may not succeed where there is insufficient nexus to affect trade and competition within the EU. This decision marks the continuing, and indeed increasing, difficulty claimants face in bringing claims –Read More–

On the 20 January 2016, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down its ruling on a preliminary reference made by the Italian Council of State on the relationship between EU and national member state leniency applications for cartel activity. The matter involved the air freight forwarding cartel, and the legal matters in dispute date back to actions taken in 2007-2008. In June 2007, a member of that cartel, approached both the Italian Competition Authority and the European Commission, seeking –Read More–

Individualization of penalties is a fundamental principle of criminal and antitrust law. In our EU & Competition Law update of May 2014, we underlined that the French Supreme Court considered that the mere fact that a company which engaged in anti-competitive practices belonged to a corporate group was not sufficient ground to deem that other group companies played a role in, and should be sanctioned for, such anti-competitive practices. The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”), in its decision C-597/13 of –Read More–

On August 5th, 2015 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced a rare formal action against medical professionals in the UK. The CMA has found the Consultant Eye Surgeons Partnership (CESP) responsible for creating anti-competitive pricing agreements across their extensive network of surgeons and medical partnerships. The lucrative wrongdoings that CESP has been fined for include creating and distributing stringent price lists to their members across the UK, detailing out how much should be charged for a variety of eye procedures. –Read More–

On 21 May 2015, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) confirmed that an arbitration clause agreed between parties, may not bind those parties to arbitration if the perpetrator was being sued where the harm took place or in the jurisdiction that another member of the cartel was being sued. The case is an important lesson on the limits of contractual agreements as to the jurisdiction of disputes. The CJEU was asked to give judgment for the interpretation of Arts. 5(3) –Read More–

On 19 March 2015, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) imposed a fine of €60.3 million on two banana importers for their participation in a price fixing cartel. The judgment confirms the low evidential hurdle for the Commission when prosecuting in cartel cases, and establishes “that communications between competitors leading to horizontal price-fixing through a cartel are anti-competitive by their very object and amount to a violation of EU antitrust rules, without requiring an analysis of their effect on competition –Read More–

In the Air Cargo Cartel proceedings claiming damages against British Airways, the English High Court has ordered the disclosure of the confidential version of the EU Commission’s 2010 Air Cargo Cartel Decision to the Claimants within a confidentiality ring, thereby putting it on a collision course with the EU Commission. The EU Commission had informed the High Court that it was not in a position to publish a non-confidential version of the Cartel Decision due to the number of confidentiality –Read More–

On 11 August 2014, the European Commission published details of a challenge made against the Commission in the high voltage power cables cartel case. The cartel case relates to the €302 million fine levied against 11 producers of high voltage power cables for operating a market sharing cartel. Specifically, Pirelli, a parent company at the time of Prysmian, was levied with a fine €104,613,000 under joint and several liability with Prysmian. As Pirelli was considered by the Commission to be –Read More–

Washing powder, power cables, car and truck bearings, polyurethane foam, and North Sea shrimps. What do these have in common? All have had to pay millions of Euros in settlement to the European Commission due to infringements of competition law. Canned mushrooms is but the latest product in the food sector to fall to the growing scrutiny of the Commission. A Commission investigation revealed that four producers had become involved in a strategy of mutual benefit, a so called ‘non-aggression pact’, –Read More–

On 5 June 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on a cartel case referred by an Austrian Court, concerning a lift and escalator cartel and is crucial in clarifying the EU’s position on the controversial subject of umbrella pricing. The ECJ ruled that customers of non-cartel members were able to claim for damages caused by market price inflation, provided a causal link could be proved between the cartel’s actions and a third-party price increase. The case stems from –Read More–

On 2 April 2014, the European Commission fined a well-known investment company amongst 18 other companies for participation in a market and customer sharing cartel in high voltage power cables. The importance of this decision is that it shows investment companies, which may not have any participation in their portfolio companies cartel activity, can be held liable nethertheless. The European Commission considers that the behaviour occurred over a 10 year period and that the cartel had a worldwide effect in –Read More–

For the first time, and after many attempts, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it had successfully extradited a foreign national to stand trial in the U.S. to face criminal antitrust charges for price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation. Prior attempts at extradition in antitrust cases have been unsuccessful, in part, because extradition generally requires dual criminality – meaning that the charged offense must be a crime under both countries’ laws. For example, in 2010, the British courts –Read More–

The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), the new central competition regulator, will continue the Office of Fair Trading’s (“OFT”) policy of cash rewards for cartel whistleblowers. The little known programme has been in place since 2008 and aims to reward individuals who come forward with inside information on cartel activity such as price fixing or allocating customers between competitors. Rewards of £100,000 are available to individuals but the full £100,000 will not be awarded in every situation. The CMA, like –Read More–

On 20 March 2014, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) closed its investigation into the supply of prescription medication to care homes in England and confirmed the fines leveled on a pharmacist. The decision by the OFT is important as a case study to illustrate how settlement and compliance with the competition authorities can substantially reduce regulatory fines. The fines relate to conduct from May 2011 to November 2011 between Quantum Pharmaceutical Limited (“Quantum“) and Lloyds Pharmacy Limited (“Lloyds“). Under –Read More–

On 19th March 2014, the European Commission announced it had fined a number of companies engaged in a cartel on the EU automotive bearings market €953 million for their conduct. The companies involved were two European companies (Sweden’s SKF and Germany’s Schaeffler) and four Japanese companies (JTEKT, NSK, NFC and NTN with its French subsidiary NTN-SNR). The Commission’s Decision brings to an end an investigation which started with unannounced inspections in November 2011. The Decision was taken under the EU Commission’s –Read More–

UK criminal cartel prosecutions could soon increase in the UK as the competition regulator focuses upon securing prosecutions following a change in the law. On 1st April 2014, the UK’s new competition law regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), takes over the Office of Fair Trading’s competition watchdog role. In preparation for this, the CMA on 12 March 2014 published prosecutorial guidance (“the Guidance”) in respect of the controversial new amended cartel offence. The cartel offence is contained in –Read More–