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On the 13th September 2017 Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, unveiled a framework for investment screening for certain foreign mergers in his “State of the Union” address to the European Parliament. At the same time the text of a proposed Council Regulation was published which set out inmore detail the proposed new EU system. These proposals are similar in nature to those proposed by the UK in the Queen’s speech a few months ago. This proposal had been widely –Read More–

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to set out her vision for Brexit during her highly-anticipated speech in Florence on September 22 Partner and Head of the EU & UK Competition Team at Bryan Cave, Robert Bell, commented in an article in Law360 on September 20 as to what businesses will be wanting to hear and seek clarity on from the Prime Minister’s address. He explains, “The business community’s primary concern with the whole Brexit process is the uncertainty –Read More–

On 12th September 2017  the UK competition authority, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) sent an open letter to businesses in the creative industries sector warning them about price fixing and information sharing, emphasising that this type of illegal behaviour will not be tolerated. The CMA’s experience derived from a recent cartel case and research into the creative sector. This showed that while the creative sector is an important and rapidly growing part of the UK economy, estimated to be –Read More–

French cosmetics company Caudalie had previously made headlines in a case decided on February 2nd 2016. In that case, Caudalie had applied for an injunction against an online marketplace to compel it to cease selling Caudalie products, but the Paris Court of Appeal had rejected the claim, thus limiting the possibility for suppliers using selective distribution networks to impose an outright ban on marketplace retailers carrying their products (see our May 2016 EU & Competition Law Update). On June 8th –Read More–

On June 9, 2017, the 9th amendment of the German Act against Restraints of the Competition (GWB) came into effect. The most significant changes affect the liability for cartel fines, the application of merger control and the compensation for cartel damages. Extended liability for cartel fines While the European sanctions law determines the subject for cartel fines through the “economic entity” model, German law would only impose fines on the legal person that was directly involved in the infringement. The –Read More–

On the 14th August 2017, it was widely reported in the UK press how Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, is preparing to unveil EU foreign takeover controls at a keynote speech in September. Such a system would be similar to CFIUS, the USA’s Committee on Foreign Investment. In the USA, the CFIUS mechanism allows the USA to block foreign takeovers when they could threaten USA strategic interests. This in the past has gone as far as technology companies, but –Read More–

The CMA published on 16th June its final version of its Merger De Minimis Guidelines following earlier consultation with stakeholders. The Guidelines set out the criteria which the CMA will have regard to when exercising its discretion under UK merger control legislation to clear mergers in small markets. Under the Enterprise Act 2002 the CMA is under a statutory duty to refer a completed or anticipated relevant merger situation to an in-depth Phase 2 investigation where it believes that it –Read More–

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–

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