parliment flags

On 27 October 2017, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had launched investigations into several hotel booking websites on the grounds that they were potentially misleading consumers. Specifically, the CMA had concerns regarding: the manipulation of search results once a consumer had entered their hotel search criteria, particularly hotels who paid more commission to the website being ranked higher; creating false impressions as to room availability to rush consumer decision making; advertising misleading discounts that may –Read More–

The CMA ,the UK’s main competition regulator, launched an investigation on 26th September 2017 into home insurance price comparison website, compare the market .com, over its use of most favoured nation clauses (“MFN”) and whether their use constituted an infringement of the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the TFEU. This investigation follows the publication of a final report in the CMA’s market study into digital comparison tools. Over the last year the CMA –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–

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–

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–

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–

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–

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–

On 21 December 2016, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down an interesting interpretation of jurisdictional issues in cross-border competition law and online sales. The ECJ ruled that courts of a Member State have jurisdiction to hear an action to establish liability for infringement of a prohibition on sales via marketplace websites based outside such State where such sales are alleged to have harmed the party in the first Member State. On 16 March 2012, “Concurrence”, a French retailer –Read More–

On 1 July 2016, the German Ministry for Economic Affairs published a draft bill for the 9th amendment of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen – GWB). The draft bill addresses numerous topics which have been subject to intensive discussions in German competition policy and will bring material changes to German antitrust law. 1. Expanded system of sanctions and fines One of the main pillars of the 9th amendment of the GWB is the introduction of –Read More–

On 2 February 2017, the EU Commission simultaneously launched three investigations into the e-commerce sector. What is significant about this latest development is that it shows that e-commerce is a clear priority area in antitrust enforcement, and that the Commission is willing to attack perceived anti-competitive practices head-on. The investigations focus on (1) video games, (2) hotel price discrimination and (3) consumer electronics manufacturing. The video games inquiry is directed at the largest PC game distribution platform, Steam, and its –Read More–

In 2016, Carwow a new car portal, which introduces customers to dealers for the purchase of cars, complained to the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) that BMW UK was prohibiting its dealers from listing their new BMW and MINI cars on the portal. It asked the CMA to launch an investigation into whether this restriction was anti-competitive and breached EU or UK competition law. Online comparison tools can help promote competition in many markets and assist consumers to make informed –Read More–

On 12th December 2016 the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) launched a market study into the residential mortgage market to ascertain whether competition in that market is working as well as it could and to identify possible measures to improve competition to the the benefit of consumers. The market study is being conducted pursuant to the FCA’s regulatory powers under the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”). The launch of the market study follows the FCA’s Call for Inputs –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 22 November 2016, the Competition Market Authority (CMA) announced the opening of an initial investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in relation to the supply of auction services in the UK. The CMA announced that this investigation will focus on both suspected anti-competitive agreements and the suspected abuse of dominance, specifically, suspected exclusionary and restrictive pricing practices including most favoured nations provisions in respect to online sales. Although the CMA did not name the companies under investigation, it –Read More–

Businesses that breach competition law can face serious financial and reputational consequences. Certain serious breaches of competition law may also put individuals at risk of criminal prosecution. In addition, the CMA may apply to Court for a director disqualification order against directors of a companies engaged in anti-competitive behaviour. For the first time, the CMA sought to use its power under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. On 1st December 2016, Daniel Aston, managing director of the online poster supplier –Read More–

On the 7th November 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a campaign to remind online sellers that agreeing and discussing price level with competitors is illegal and can result in serious penalties. In the context of Black Friday, Christmas and the January sales promotions, this was a salutary lesson. The CMA has warned online sellers against price fixing after finding evidence of collusion by sellers using internet marketplaces. On 12th August 2016, the CMA held that two –Read More–

On 19 October 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued an important judgment concerning the German law on fixing prices of retail prescription drugs. In the case before the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, the German Parkinson’s Disease Association teamed up with the Dutch mail-order pharmacy DocMorris to obtain better terms for German patients. In Germany there is a uniform retail price on medicinal products sold to patients in Germany, irrespective whether they are sold online –Read More–

On 18 July 2016, Germany moved another step closer to enshrining a right for distributors in selective distribution systems to sell over online marketplaces. This is not sudden move by the German courts, in fact we have reported similar stories in May 2014 and September 2014. The current matter is a request from a German Court for a preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court asked several questions relating to the interpretation of Article 101 of the –Read More–