parliment flags

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–

On 21st June 2017 the European Commission announced that it had fined Automotive Lighting and Hella over €26 million for participating in an automotive lighting cartel, in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement. A third member of the cartel, Valeo was not fined as it had blown the whistle on the cartel to the EU competition regulator. Following an EU Commission investigation, all the companies –Read More–

Recent developments show the UK Government’s desire to expand their powers to block foreign takeovers. We explore the nature and scope of the proposed legislation and assess its likely consequences. The Conservative Government recently announced a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to provide it with an overall Parliamentary majority. The present Administration is therefore expected to stay in power for the foreseeable future and it is likely to be able to force through some relatively uncontroversial legislation in the –Read More–

European and national competition regulator interest in hotel prices and price parity clauses continues. On 5 July 2017, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a one page memo, intended to educate hotels on how they could agree to offer lower prices between different online travel agents. Before the regulatory intervention of the last few years, hotels would often have to offer their best price contractually to one of the larger or dominant online travel agents. This in turn –Read More–

On 26 May 2017, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) issued its judgment on the liability of the Law Society of England and Wales (the Law Society) in a claim brought against it by Socrates Training Limited (Socrates) finding the Law Society liable for a breach of its dominant position in contravention of both UK and EU Competition Law. This is the first judgment under from the Competition Appeal Tribunals (CAT) Fast Track Procedure, a procedure that was introduced on 1 –Read More–

You couldn’t really make it up! First there was the surprise result in the Brexit referendum last year. Then it was the unexpected Trump victory in the US Presidential election. Now following yesterday’s UK General Election we have a Conservative party with no overall Parliamentary majority tasked with having to navigate a UK withdrawal from the European Union in the most difficult negotiations this country has faced since the end of the Second World War. The unpredictability of electorates appears –Read More–

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), issued an aggressive Opinion on the 31 May 2017, aimed at dashing the hopes of letterbox subsidiaries in the EU. The Opinion also sought to govern growing competition between EU Member States for business relocating as a result of Brexit. The central aim of the Opinion, seems to be a warning that UK firms would not be able to use ‘letterbox’ subsidiaries in the EU to gain access to the single market. Banks –Read More–

In order to protect brand image, the quality of pre-sale service, and the pricing structure of their products, manufacturers undertake a variety of measures to sell products to their retailers. Thus, clauses which prohibit retailers from using price comparison engines within selective distributions systems have enjoyed a certain amount of popularity in recent years. At least for manufacturers in Germany, this way of business is now blocked. On 5 June 2017, the Higher Regional Court Düsseldorf confirmed a decision by –Read More–

On 30 May 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it was consulting on proposals from an online bidding platform to change its terms, following concerns from the CMA that the platform was engaged in anti-competitive practices. The CMA had accused ATG Media, the largest provider of live online bidding platforms in the UK, of carrying out practices which harmed its rivals in the online bidding platform market. These platforms are used by auction houses to allow people –Read More–

In a ruling which is likely to have positive implications for a possible Brexit deal, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the 16 May 2017 opened up the ability of the EU institutions to negotiate free trade agreements without the approval of individual Member State legislatures. The case, which involved a Singapore-EU trade deal agreed some years ago but not yet ratified, is being seen as a blueprint for a way to get a future Brexit deal through the EU –Read More–

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–

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has published new commentary to inform companies on how it assess retail mergers. The commentary should be read by any retailer considering merging with a competitor in the UK. On 10 April 2017, the CMA published new commentary on how they will assess retail mergers. The commentary is an update to a 2011 publication by the then Office of Fair Trading. The CMA felt that it had assessed a lot of retail mergers –Read More–

Critics of the EU referendum result in June last year likened the vote by the U.K. to leave the European Union as the “apocalyptical” opening of Pandora’s box. But whilst the predictions of doom and gloom for the U.K. economy have not materialized (or at least …yet) there is something about the U.K.’s tortuous journey out of the European Union which never fails to surprise. The country spent over six months debating whether the government or Parliament had the authority –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–

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–

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–

Those aficionados of the silver screen will remember comedians Laurel and Hardy and in particular their catchphrase ‘Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into’. Well that seems to be an appropriate ‘epitaph’ for the challenges and issues that UK procurement legislation faces after Brexit. Most of the complex laws and regulations around the tendering of major public contracts derive from EU law. Removing the supremacy of EU law and the binding nature of the Court of Justice of –Read More–

Is BT a service provider, or an infrastructure owner? Failure to properly deal with this question during its privatisation in 1984 has been a source of numerous allegations by rivals about margin squeeze and unfair cross subsidisation, particularly over unbundling the local loop. True and effective competition within the UK telecoms market is not possible without a network in third party ownership. Ofcom’s proposals In July 2016, Ofcom set out its competition concern that BT has the ability and incentive –Read More–

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