parliment flags

This week the UK Government enacted two new Orders which lower the UK merger control thresholds under the Enterprise Act 2002. The legislation extends the jurisdiction of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Secretary of State to investigate mergers in certain sensitive sectors of the UK economy which may have national security implications. The new Orders will come into force on 11 June 2018. These Orders will extend the reach of the UK merger control system to deals –Read More–

On 24th April 2018 the European Commission announced that it had imposed a fine of  €124.5 million on Altice, the multinational cable and telecommunications company based in the Netherlands, for implementing its acquisition of the Portuguese telecommunications operator PT Portugal before notification or approval by the Commission (“gun jumping”). This is by far the largest fine imposed by the Commission on a company for gun jumping under the EU Merger Regulation. This case is of significance as it shows that –Read More–

On 26 April 2018, the European Commission (the “Commission“) published a long awaited draft regulation on promoting fairness and transparency in online platforms, introducing some new rules for the operators of platforms (including price comparison websites) which are designed to improve transparency and fairness (the “Regulation“). We take a look at why the Commission is concerned about online platforms and how these concerns are being addressed. Competition law and digital markets Online platforms have long been the focus of competition –Read More–

Summary The Court of Justice of the EU has confirmed that price discrimination by a dominant firm is not in itself illegal under competition law. However, it will infringe Article 102 TFEU if it is capable of distorting competition between the dominant firm’s upstream or downstream trading partners. The judgment provides useful guidance to firms with significant market power, their rivals and trading partners. It remains to be seen whether it will make EU competition authorities more inclined to pursue –Read More–

The European Commission has been closely following the developments in e-commerce. As more and more goods and services are sold online, the Commission finds itself inevitably drawn into regulating the competition rules in this increasing important sector. On 22 March 2018, the Director General of Competition, Mr Laitenberger, set out the Commission’s views on the key challenges it faces in dealing with ecommerce and how it proposes to deal with them in the future. Geo-blocking and price monitoring software The –Read More–

In February we reported on how a member of a maritime carrier cartel had saved itself a €200m fine under the EU’s leniency procedure. Showing the continued and valuable use of the leniency procedure, on 21 March 2018 it was reported by the Commission how a member of a Japanese aluminium and tantalum electrolytic capacitor cartel had saved itself a fine of €32m by again using the procedure. Capacitors are electrical components that store energy electrostatically in an electric field, –Read More–

On the 21st of February 2018, the European Commission announced that it had fined maritime carriers a total of €395 for participation in a cartel concerning the intercontinental maritime transport of vehicles. To co-ordinate the cartel, “the carriers’ sales managers met at each other’s offices, in bars, restaurants or other social gatherings and were in contact over the phone on a regular basis. In particular, they coordinated prices, allocated customers and exchanged commercially sensitive information about elements of the price, –Read More–

It is settled law that the fact that a subsidiary has separate legal personality is not sufficient to exclude the possibility of its anti-competitive conduct being imputed to the parent company. The European Court of Justice (“CJEU“) has created a rebuttable presumption to the effect that a parent company holding substantially all of its subsidiary’s shares is presumed to control the latter’s decisions (CJEU, Oct. 25, 1983, case 107/82, AEG; CJEU, Sept. 10, 2009, case 97/08, Akzo Nobel; CJEU, Sept. 10, 2011, –Read More–

The Supreme Court decided last year in Nuclear Decommissioning Agency v Energy Solutions EU Ltd [2017] UKSC 34 (“the NDA case”) that a claimant no longer had an automatic right to damages for a breach of the public procurement rules. Instead the Supreme Court imposed a “sufficiently serious” requirement for a breach to entitle a party to damages using the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in Francovitch (Case C-479/93 Francovitch (1995)) as a justification for its stance. –Read More–

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the principal UK competition regulator, maintains a register of competition law advisory and warning letters it sends to businesses it believes could be breaching competition law. On 12 February 2018, the CMA announced that it had updated its competition law advisory and warning letters register. The subject of these letters and the sectors upon which they focus provide an interesting insight into the type of practices and the industries the CMA has in its –Read More–

On 6 February 2018, the EU Commission announced that it had accepted a referral request from a number of EU countries to assess Apple’s acquisition of Shazam, a UK based developer and distributor of music recognition software. Does this acquisition represent the latest example of tech companies buying their likely future competitors? We reported in December 2017 how the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) issued a press release alleging that Facebook had abused its dominant position on the market for –Read More–

Introduction The EU Withdrawal Bill is probably one of the most controversial and important constitutional UK Parliamentary Bills of modern times. This is the Bill that will pave the way for the UK to leave the European Union and ensures that the UK retains in its wake a functioning statutory framework after Brexit. The aim is to provide legal certainty when converting existing EU law on the day the UK leaves the EU (“Exit Day”) into UK law. However, muddled –Read More–

On 4 December 2017, the Bundeskartellamt (German Federal Cartel Office — FCO) announced it had banned CTS Eventim from having exclusive agreements with its promoter and box office partners. Based in Munich, CTS Eventim is the operator of the largest ticketing system in Germany and holds a dominant position in the relevant market. The company provides ticketing services for event organisers and advance booking offices, organises music tours and festivals, and is particularly known for its ticket online shop “eventim.de”. –Read More–

The French Competition Authority (“FCA”) ended the year with two punitive decisions: in both cases, the parties were severely sanctioned for obstructionist behavior. In the first decision dated 20 December 2017, the FCA imposed a 25 million euro fine on pharmaceutical company Janssen-Cilag and its parent company Johnson & Johnson, for having prevented and then restricted the development of generic versions of its Durogesic analgesic (a medicine aimed at alleviating the pain of individuals, in particular children, suffering from cancer). –Read More–

Introduction One of the key concerns of merging parties in any transaction is the steps they are allowed to take prior to the clearance of the merger.  A recent case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (Case C‑633/16 Ernst & Young P/S Konkurrencerådet) has recently had to address this particular issue. On 18 January 2018, Advocate General Wahl handed down an opinion which provided helpful guidance on what steps companies could take without rendering themselves liable for –Read More–

A recent public procurement decision of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court highlights the possibility that aggrieved suppliers in public procurement cases in the UK run the risk of losing their future rights to damages in post-Brexit Britain unless they are specifically retained under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. One of the UK Government’s redlines in the Brexit negotiations was not being subject to the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). However the EU –Read More–

We reported in January 2017 on how a Portuguese Court has asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) to provide guidance on when “discriminatory pricing applied to equivalent transactions” amounts to an abuse of a dominant positon under Article 102 (c) Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). Article 102(c) is often invoked when a dominant company supplies an input or raw material at different prices to competing customers. These competitors then process it into –Read More–

Introduction On 19 December 2017, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO), issued a press release alleging that Facebook had abused its dominant position on the market for social networks in Germany. It specifically alleges that it forces users to sign up on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis to Facebook’s use and collection of their data. Facebook then uses this broad consent to monitor users’ non-Facebook data and merge those details with the users Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp data for use in –Read More–

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–