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parliment flags

On 1st April 2020 the Commission issued practical guidance in relation to how public bodies can use the provisions of the EU public procurement rules to source goods, services and works rapidly in response to the emergency situation caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. The guidance emphasises that “ the EU public procurement legislation already provides public buyers in the EU with the ability to purchase protective equipment, medicines and ventilators quickly if needed in urgent situations. The current coronavirus crisis –Read More–

The UK Government passed emergency legislation to amend UK competition law on 27th March 2020 to help healthcare, grocery and ferry companies maintain the provision of essential goods or services to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. The emergency legislation was in the form of three Orders which excluded certain activities from the provisions of the Chapter I prohibition under the Competition Act 1998. The Chapter I prohibition prohibits agreements or arrangements between businesses which prevent distort or restrict –Read More–

On 9th December High Court heard one of the first applications to vary Company Director Disqualification Undertakings (“CDU”) given by two directors of a group of companies previously found guilty by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)of having engaged in cartel activity in the Design, Construction and Fit Out Sector Background The CMA is making greater use of its director disqualification powers under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 as amended by the Enterprise Act 2002. The drive to bring –Read More–

Introduction On 17th July 2019 the EU Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon and whether Amazon is using sensitive data it obtains from independent retailers which sell on Amazon Marketplace in breach of the EU competition rules. This formal probe had been widely expected for some time as the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, had already signalled in September last year that the EU Commission was looking into Amazon’s conduct with a view to deciding whether to launch –Read More–

Introduction The EU Commission has flexed its muscles yet again to enforce the competition rules in the e-commerce sector announcing on 9th July 2019 that it had fined Sanrio EUR 6.2 million for banning traders from selling licensed products featuring Hello Kitty or other characters owned by Sanrio into other countries within the EEA (Commission Press Release IP/19/3950). E-commerce and the digital markets are fast becoming one of the EU Commission’s top priorities in enforcement activities as the pan-European regulator –Read More–

Introduction For a second time in 18 months the EU Commission has slapped a large antitrust fine on Qualcomm, the world’s largest chip manufacturer . On 18 July 2019, the European Commission announced that it has imposed a fine of EUR 242 million on Qualcomm for abusing its dominant position in  3G baseband chipsets contrary to Article 102 TFEU .  Qualcomm sold these chipsets below cost, with the aim of forcing its competitor, Icera, out of the market. It appears –Read More–

Introduction Following recent proposals for regulatory reform (see articles here and here) in relation to competition in digital markets, the CMA published its new Digital Markets Strategy on 3 July 2019, which sets out the agency’s approach to “protecting consumers in the digital economy while ensuring robust, competitive digital markets”. The strategy outlines five strategic aims and seven priority focus areas across antitrust law and merger control, as well as consumer law. Objectives The first strategic aim is for the –Read More–

Perhaps this is an indication of the way things are going to be after Brexit. The Governments of Germany, France and Poland have recently published a document calling for a radical review of the EU merger rules to allow a stronger emphasis on industrial policy considerations . Remove the UK from the equation with its strong belief in competition only based assessment of mergers and more politically motived industrial policy concerns are likely to fill the vacuum. More and more –Read More–

Decree No. 2019-339 of 18 April 2019 (the “Decree”), simplifying formalities for the notification of a prospective concentration operation, including mergers and acquisitions, to the French Competition Authority (“FCA”), was published in the French Official Journal on 20 April 2019 and came into force the following day. This Decree is in line with the FCA’s intention to modernise concentration control, as announced by the FCA at the end of 2017. The Decree amends the annexes to the French Commercial Code –Read More–

Summary On 4 June 2019, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court overturned a 2015 decision of the German national competition authority (the ‘Bundeskartellamt‘) to ban from imposing ‘narrow’ price parity clauses in contracts with German hotels. Price parity clauses (also known as ‘most-favoured nation’ clauses) have been a topic of debate among competition regulators across Europe. A number of national competition authorities have concluded that ‘narrow’ price parity clauses are compatible with competition law, whereas ‘wide’ price parity is likely –Read More–

Following settlement negotiations with the parties concerned the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published on 31st May 2019  a non-confidential version of its decision in which it found six office fit-out firms had infringed the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 The decision disclosed that the parties concerned engaging in cover price bidding in response to invitations to tender thereby colluding on the prices they would bid for particular contracts. Over 14 contracts with a variety of customers –Read More–

Summary Digital markets mergers are a hot topic for global antitrust regulators. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has published an expert report on whether the UK has struck the right balance between over and under regulation of such transactions. The CMA is confident that the overarching competition law framework can cope with mergers in digital markets. However, they are also seeking comments on proposals for incremental improvements in its merger assessment tools and guidance for digital markets deals. In –Read More–

 Introduction On 8th April 2019 the European Commission(“the Commission”) fined General Electric (“GE”) €52 million for providing incorrect information during the Commission’s investigation of GE’s planned acquisition of LM Wind which was investigated under the EU Merger Regulation . The merger itself was ultimately cleared unconditionally in Phase I on the basis that it raised no competition concerns. This latest decision seems to be yet another example of the Commission ramping up penalties on companies for procedural irregularities in the –Read More–

Summary On 21 February 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) issued its first competition law infringement decision since it was given competition law powers on 1 April 2015. Three asset management firms were found to have shared strategic information during an initial public offering (“IPO”) and a placing in 2015. One firm was granted immunity from fines under the competition law leniency programme. The other two firms were fined £306,300 and £108,600 respectively. The FCA’s decision follows the announcement on –Read More–

Summary  In light of recent political developments in the UK it is becoming an increasing possibility that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal. Businesses involved in merger activity will face significant implications in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit as the EU’s merger control regime will no longer cover the UK. Mergers may face investigations by both the CMA and the European Commission even where they have already been notified in Brussels. Background –Read More–

Non-exit is looking increasingly likely ! An impending sense of doom stalks the corridors of Westminster this morning after last night’s historic Government defeat over the EU Withdrawal Agreement . The May compromise deal delivered too little to too many but not enough to anyone, except perhaps the EU27. It was bound to fail ! And fail it did in historic proportions (by 230 votes). No Government has been so convincingly defeated in UK Parliamentary history. Today the Government faces –Read More–

Introduction The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice on 4th  December 2018 held, in an advisory opinion, that the UK could unilaterally revoke its decision to leave the European Union and stay a full member of the trading bloc without the need to obtain consent of the other EU 27 member states. If followed by the full European Court the UK Parliament will have a further option to consider if it rejects the draft Withdrawal Agreement agreed with –Read More–

From 3 December 2018, businesses who sell either B2B or B2C within the EU will have to comply with the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation. The Regulation will have both economic and procedural implications for any trader which sells to EU customers because it requires that customers anywhere in the EU be allowed to purchase on the same conditions as customers anywhere else in the EU. A trader can still put different prices on websites aimed at different territories, but customers must –Read More–

On 22 October 2018, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had launched a new “Stop Cartels” campaign to educate businesses about anti-competitive practices and encourage people to come forward if they suspect a business has taken part in cartel behaviour, such as fixing prices or rigging contracts. The penalties for engaging in cartel activity can be severe. Businesses found to have been involved in illegal cartels can be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover. –Read More–

Introduction On 21 September 2018, the Inner House of the Court of Session, Scotland’s Court of Appeal,  requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice as to whether it was possible for the UK to unilaterally withdraw its Article 50 notice to the European Council stating that the UK intended to withdraw from the EU to allow the UK to remain as a Member State of the European Union. This ruling has the potential to be of substantial –Read More–