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On 26 March 2014, the Committee of Permanent Representatives, a group composed of representatives from the Member States, accepted amendments to the proposed competition damages Directive made by the European Parliament and the Council Presidency. These amendments are important as the aim of the Directive is to help harmonize the European competition litigation landscape, moving towards a common approach throughout the Member States. By way of background and as previously reported, the aim of the Directive is to encourage private –Read More–

On March 27 2014, Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, announced its provisional decision to refer the UK energy market to the new UK super regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) for a full market investigation. Ofgem will now hold a consultation on whether their provisional decision to ask for a market investigation should be confirmed. Interested parties have until 23 May 2014 to respond when the consultation closes. If confirmed the CMA (which comes into force on April 1st –Read More–

On 21st March 2014, the European Commission adopted new safe harbour rules together with an accompanying set of Guidelines which automatically exempt certain categories of technology transfer agreements from the EU competition rules (see Article 101(i) TFEU). The new safe harbour rules known as the Technology Transfer Block Exemption (the “TTBE”) apply to technology transfer agreements between parties with limited market power and which satisfy the other conditions set out in that legislation. The Commission takes the view that, in –Read More–

On 20 March 2014, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) closed its investigation into the supply of prescription medication to care homes in England and confirmed the fines leveled on a pharmacist. The decision by the OFT is important as a case study to illustrate how settlement and compliance with the competition authorities can substantially reduce regulatory fines. The fines relate to conduct from May 2011 to November 2011 between Quantum Pharmaceutical Limited (“Quantum“) and Lloyds Pharmacy Limited (“Lloyds“). Under –Read More–

The Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) has published new merger control thresholds. Section 16 (1) of Law No. 287 of 1990 provides for the prior notification of all mergers and acquisitions in Italy which fall within certain thresholds. As of 10th March 2014, a concentration will need to be notified to the ICA when it meets the new, higher, cumulative conditions below: (i) The aggregate turnover in Italy of all undertakings involved exceeds € 489 million (instead of the previous € –Read More–

On 19th March 2014, the European Commission announced it had fined a number of companies engaged in a cartel on the EU automotive bearings market €953 million for their conduct. The companies involved were two European companies (Sweden’s SKF and Germany’s Schaeffler) and four Japanese companies (JTEKT, NSK, NFC and NTN with its French subsidiary NTN-SNR). The Commission’s Decision brings to an end an investigation which started with unannounced inspections in November 2011. The Decision was taken under the EU Commission’s –Read More–

On March 12 2014, the European Parliament formally approved a new draft Data Protection Regulation. The support was overwhelming, with 621 Members voting for the Regulation with only 10 against and 22 abstaining. Proposed reforms to the EU Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (Directive 95/46/EC) were first published in January 2012 as part of the European Commission’s efforts to modernise data protection rights –Read More–

Most favoured nation (“MFN”) clauses, sometimes known as ‘price parity’ or ‘best price’ clauses, are agreements whereby one party promises another to always offer its best rates or terms for a product or service. They are commonly found in a wide range of commercial agreements from long term industrial supply to distribution arrangements. However,  increasingly they have been adopted in the on-line world through agreements for online travel agency sites, price comparison sites and online marketplaces where the site operators –Read More–

UK criminal cartel prosecutions could soon increase in the UK as the competition regulator focuses upon securing prosecutions following a change in the law. On 1st April 2014, the UK’s new competition law regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), takes over the Office of Fair Trading’s competition watchdog role. In preparation for this, the CMA on 12 March 2014 published prosecutorial guidance (“the Guidance”) in respect of the controversial new amended cartel offence. The cartel offence is contained in –Read More–

On 3rd March 2014, the European Commission’s Antitrust Department (DG Comp) published an important policy paper which provides an interesting insight into when the Commission chooses to pursue cases either under the traditional prohibition decision procedure or the commitment procedure. In enforcing the EU competition rules DG Comp can make use of two procedures: (i) Prohibition procedure:- Under this procedure the Commission passes a prohibition decision under Article 7 of Council Regulation 1/2003 condemning the offensive conduct and usually imposing –Read More–

With the economic upturn becoming front-page news, small business owners may be relieved to hear that regulators are continuing in their crusade to create a more competitive lending environment to allow small businesses to aid the economic recovery. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced an update to it’s market study of financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and confirmed that the case will be taken over by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA). The CMA comes into –Read More–

On 5 March 2014, the European Commission announced that it has fined EPEX Spot and Nord Pool Spot, both European spot power exchanges, a total of €5,979,000 for breach of Article 101(1) of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). So what are power exchanges and why are they so important? Power exchanges are organised markets for trading electricity and they bring together power generators and traders. Spot trading refers to short-term trading on an exchange either –Read More–

In the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) ruling on 27th February 2014 in the Gas Switchgear Cartel case, the Court reinforced the view that access to, and the use of, leniency documents for private litigation to claim compensation is not an overriding public interest. The EU Commission, as part of its role as the EU competition law regulator, operates a leniency programme where companies can whistle-blow cartels and other anti-competitive activity in return for immunity or a –Read More–

In an important decision of December 18, 2013, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Schering-Plough and its parent companies a total of EUR 15.3 million for impeding the launch of a generic drug destined to compete with its pain-killer Subutex®. Schering-Plough (the “Laboratory”) acquired in 1997 the exclusive commercialisation rights for Subutex® (a medicine prescribed in case of opiate addiction) in France from its manufacturer, the English company Reckitt Benckiser. In January of 2006 the French Authority in charge of –Read More–

On 25 February 2014, the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) imposed fines totaling around €17m on four manufacturers of wallpaper, their representatives and the Association of German Wallpaper Manufacturers (VDT) for entering agreements that fixed prices. Between 2005 and 2008, German wallpaper manufacturers had used the VDT association meetings for fixing prices to the detriment of their customers. The Bundeskartellamt acknowledged the important role of trade association in the German economic system, but highlighted that they must not be abused –Read More–