parliment flags

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–

The 13 July 2016 saw the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announce that it had sent a questionnaire to a large sample of hotels throughout the UK. As part of a joint monitoring project with the European Commission, this project has also been launched by several competition agencies in the EU. The purpose of the project is to study how changes to hotel room pricing policies and a variety of other investigations have affected the online hotel booking sector. In –Read More–

On 21 April 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published an open letter to estate agents in the UK stressing the importance of making independent commercial decisions and warning them against unlawful collaboration in breach of competition law. It was brought to the CMA’s attention that various estate agents were entering into collective decisions to market properties solely on the OnTheMarket Portal and to remove themselves from all other competing portals, including Rightmove and Zoopla. The CMA raises concerns –Read More–

On 26 April 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) confirmed, following settlement, that it will issue a formal infringement decision to bathroom fittings manufacturer Ultra Finishing Limited (“Ultra”) following investigations opened back in August 2014 into suspected vertical price restraints in place between suppliers and resellers. In our previous update on this issue, we reported that the CMA had, on 28 January 2016, disclosed provisional findings of anti-competitive behaviour in a Statements of Objections. In response, Ultra stated that –Read More–

On 22 April 2016, the European Commission (“EC”) invited industry comment on the commitments proposed by Paramount Pictures International Limited (“Paramount”) in response to concerns raised by the EC. The EC’s concerns were that many of its contractual clauses in licensing agreements with Sky UK Limited (“Sky”) concerning cross-border access to pay-TV content may contravene Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The EC published a Statement of Objections on 27 July 2015 which highlights –Read More–

On the 18th of March 2016, the EU Commission published initial findings from its e-commerce sector inquiry. The initial findings show a widespread use of geo-blocking throughout retailers in the EU. The findings reaffirm the Commission’s focus on this area and may lead to actions by the Commission later this year. Geo-blocking is the practice of blocking online sales across borders by redirecting international customers back to their own domestic websites or blocking the use of foreign delivery addresses or –Read More–

On 18 March 2016, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) published only the second case to be brought under the new fast track procedure before the CAT under the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The fast track procedure was designed to allow individuals and SMEs a quick and more cost effective way of enforcing their competition rights against big business. It was also a rare case involving the enforceability of land use restrictions which seldom come before the Courts. –Read More–

On the 12th of February 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the successor companies to Alpharma Limited around £45m in total for breaches of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998, the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements. The case shows the continued danger in pharmaceuticals reaching settlement agreements in IP disputes with generic drug providers. The case in question relates to agreements between GSK and Alpharma, made between 2001 and 2004. The drug in question –Read More–

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) continues to focus its attention on resale price maintenance particularly where it relates to minimum advertised prices (MAP) on on-line sites. The CMA has a history of targeting this type of behaviour . Minimum advertised prices are generally permitted under US Antitrust law. This case highlights how careful companies, particularly US companies, have to be in relation to their distribution strategies in Europe. On 28 January 2016, issued Statements of Objections (“SOs”) to –Read More–

On the 18 December 2015, the UK Office of Rail and Road (“ORR”) formally accepted commitments from one of the UK’s leading providers of Deep Sea Container (“DSC”) rail transport services, which reportedly “fully address its competition concerns”. The ORR, the UK’s independent regulator and monitor of railways and highways, received complaints of allegedly anti-competitive behaviour and an abuse of dominance on 17 June 2014 in relation to DCS’s arrangements with customers for the supply of its transport services. The ORR launched –Read More–

On 16 December 2015, the General Court of the European Union overturned the European Commission’s 9 November 2010 Airfreight decision (Case C.39258) and, in doing so, annulled one of the largest fines imposed in EU history. If the General Court’s decision is not appealed by the Commission, or if the appeal is not overturned, it will have considerable cost implications for claimants that have launched follow-on damages actions before the English courts and elsewhere. These cases would have relied upon –Read More–

On 3 December 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) wrote an open letter to private medical practitioners in the UK stressing the importance of making independent commercial decisions and warning against unlawful collaboration with competitors. The open letter follows soon after the CMA’s finding in August 2015 that the Consultant Eye Surgeons Partnership (“CESP”) was responsible for creating anti-competitive pricing agreements across their extensive network of surgeons and medical partnerships; a decision which highlighted an evident lack of competition –Read More–

On 18 November 2015, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) issued a press release announcing that it was putting an end to its investigation of the contractual practices of Adidas, one of the largest sporting goods manufacturers, as a result of Adidas’s change in its online sales policy. The FCA investigation, (which was carried out in coordination with its German counterpart), centered on the company’s 2012 prohibition for its selective distributors to distribute Adidas France products through multi-brand online “marketplaces”. These –Read More–

The anti-competitive effects of price parity clauses – or most favored nation clauses – used by online travel agencies (“OTAs”) in their contracts with hoteliers have been under increasing scrutiny by both national courts and EU regulators (see the February 2015 and June 2015 editions of the EU & Competition Law Bulletin). This topic has now been addressed by law-makers in France through a specific amendment to the French Code of Tourism which puts an end to price parity clauses –Read More–

On 15 October 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA“) wrote an open letter to UK Head teachers, governing boards and school uniform suppliers, warning them that they may be in breach of Competition Law if their school uniform supply arrangements are found to be anti-competitive in nature. Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (“CA“) prohibits agreements which may affect trade within the UK and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition –Read More–

On 27 August 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) concluded its competition investigation into the online distribution system of Asics Deutschland, one of Germany’s leading athletics brands. Under German and European competition law, manufacturers of branded products have a right to safeguard quality standards in the distribution of their products and impose requirements to this effect on their authorised dealers. However, these measures may not be allowed to excessively restrict small and medium-sized dealers in their ability to sell –Read More–