parliment flags

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–

According to a decision announced 24 June 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (the “FCO” or Bundeskartellamt) has imposed fines amounting to 75 million euros on five companies in the automotive supply sector and the staff responsible, which were involved in price fixing agreements regarding so-called acoustically effective components (such as car mats, flooring, and textile wheel house shells) between 2005 and 2013. Based on several bilateral and three different multilateral meetings the fined companies agreed on, inter alia, the –Read More–

The French Competition Authority (“FCA”) is expected to issue a decision shortly on practices implemented by at least four major French companies in the distribution of consumer products to certain overseas departments and territories of France, including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, and Saint Martin (the “Territories”). In the Territories, most consumer products are manufactured by French companies based in Continental France, and are then imported and distributed by intermediaries – wholesale importers or designated agents – with a price hike –Read More–

On 3 June 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) sent out 2 open letters addressed to estate agents and newspapers warning them of the risk and consequences of breaking competition law. The CMA hopes that these open letters will promote the lessons to be learned and encourage best practice in the future. The letters come as a result of an association of 3 estate agents and a newspaper publisher being found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour in March 2015. The –Read More–

On 6 May 2015, the European Commission announced that it had launched a sector inquiry under Council Regulation 1/2003 into the e-commerce sector, regarding the ability of suppliers, wholesalers and resellers to sell their goods and services over the internet. The Commission has the power to conduct inspections and even impose fines and other sanctions for competition law infringements it may find while carrying out its sectorial review. One of the Commission’s main concerns is the lack of cross-border internet –Read More–

By decision dated 11 March 2015, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined a group of dairy manufacturers for price-fixing dairy products sold under private retail labels. The ten dairy manufacturers concerned were found to have implemented a price-fixing agreement during a period from at least 2006 to 2012. This anti-competitive practice (made possible thanks to secret meetings and telephone conversations) aimed notably at coordinating price hikes and volume allocation in a concerted effort to distort and hinder competition in the –Read More–

On 27 March 2014, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced an unspecified, wide ranging competition law investigation into the clothing, footwear and fashion sector. Unconfirmed reports circulating are that the investigation may relate to geo-blocking. 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 credit cards. This may be done to prohibit customers from benefitting from favourable exchange –Read More–

On the 3rd March 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO” or Bundeskartellamt), held that a non-compete clause with a 150km radius in the leases for a German factory outlet centre as anti-competitive. The key facts of the case are as follows: The clause in question banned any shop entering into a lease for the factory outlet centre in question to open another shop in a rival outlet centre within a 150km radius. A rival outlet centre 147km away had –Read More–

Date: 25 February 2015 Time: 8AM PST, 10AM CST, 11AM EST, 4PM GMT, 5PM CET CPD accredited In this live one hour webinar, Anita Esslinger and Kathie Claret will examine vertical restraints in product distribution systems under EU competition law, including as administered and enforced in France, as well as under French competition law. The webinar will cover common issues and recent developments relating to: •    Resale pricing •    Territorial and customer restrictions •    Selective Distribution •    Internet distribution Anita –Read More–

On the 26 January 2014, the CMA released a statement praising the High Court’s decision to reject appeals by supermarket Somerfield (now part of the Co-op group) and tobacco giant Gallagher concerning their payment of fines. The fines were originally levied by the CMA’s predecessor, the OFT, against Somerfield and Gallagher (amongst others) over agreements regarding the retail price of cigarettes. In these agreements, it was alleged that there was price collusion when the price of cigarettes was linked to –Read More–

On the 30 December 2014, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets announced that it had fined CVC Capital Partners and Bencis Capital Partners for their ownership of Dutch flour producer Meneba. Meneba had been convicted of participation in a price and output limiting cartel between the years 2001 and 2007. The case is significant as it is the second major instance of a private equity firm being fined for ownership of an infringing portfolio company after the EU Commission –Read More–

On 16 December 2014, in a decision likely to delight Swedish retailers, the Swedish Competition Authority (SCA) decided not to further investigate or prosecute alleged price fixing by a protein powder retailer. This instance is significant because on the facts of the complaint: that the price fixing was blatant. In it’s decision, the SCA revealed that it investigated the protein powder producer 13:e Protein Import AB, after an anonymous tip of a 2013 letter sent by the producer. In this –Read More–

As we reported in July 2014, the European Commission fined pharmaceutical company Servier and several of its generic competitors for entering into so called ‘pay for delay agreements’. These agreements were settlements of patent challenges involving payments of tens of millions of Euros to the generic competitors in exchange for their agreement to abstain from competing with Servier’s peripindopril cardio-vascular product. The Commission argued that these agreements violated EU competition law Article 101 and fined each of the generic competitors, –Read More–

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