Competition Law Update | March 2016

Published on 8th Mar 2016

This month, our international team of authors considers the diverging approach to competition law across Europe.

Following last month’s update on hotel rate parity clauses in Germany, we look at the different approaches being taken in Italy and France – and what this means for you when using “most favoured nation” clauses in Europe. We also look at how Spain and Germany are implementing the EU Directive on Damages Actions.

In our “spotlight” section this month, we discuss developments in Italy and, in particular, the IAA’s recent actions against bid-rigging.

The focus on divergence is particularly topical as businesses start to grapple with the potential impact of a Brexit – not least, the possibility that the UK will step away from EU competition law and merger control, potentially increasing the compliance burden on European companies. If you are considering the legal implications of Brexit for your business, Osborne Clarke’s experts from across the firm have more here.

Hotel rate parity clauses: legal developments in France and Italy

Hotel rate parity clauses – which guarantee that a hotel room will not be available more cheaply on competing price comparison sites (or on the hotel’s own website) – continue to be a key focus for competition authorities across Europe. We have previously discussed action taken by the German national competition authority to prohibit such clauses and here we now discuss developments in both France and Italy. 

Spotlight on Italy: IAA action against bid-rigging

Following on from our last newsletter in which we considered competition law developments in Germany, we now turn the spotlight to Italy here and consider recent Italian competition law developments and the latest actions of the Italian Antitrust Authority.

Spanish transposition of EU Directive on antitrust damages claims: a basis for wider reform of the Spanish legal system?

In light of the recent publication of the Spanish Ministry of Justice’s Bill, which will implement the EU Directive on antitrust damages, we discuss here the provisions of the Spanish Bill and consider whether its implementation could act as a basis for wider reform of the Spanish legal system as a whole.

Cartel damages: Germany moves to encourage action against cartel members

The German government has started to unveil its plans for the national implementation of the EU Directive on Damages Actions, with amendments to the German competition statute expected to be passed later this year. We discuss the German government’s proposals to expand the opportunity for claiming damages from cartel members here ahead of the release of its draft legislation which is anticipated this spring.

Stifling competition? Restrictive covenants on land under scrutiny in new fast-track Tribunal procedure

The UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal is to consider a claim by a property developer that restrictive covenants which give Tesco exclusivity over grocery retailing are anti-competitive. This case will be the second time the new ‘Fast Track’ procedure will be considered by the CAT and we discuss here the potentially far reaching ramifications of the case for both developers and retailers.

PSR provisionally concludes that banks should cut their shares in VocaLink

On 25 February 2016, the Payment Systems Regulator published its provisional findings in its market review into the ownership and competitiveness of infrastructure provision, proposing in particular that Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, and Santander should reduce their ownership stakes in VocaLink. The provisional findings make a number of proposals for reform which the PSR intends will drive competition and innovation, and create opportunities for new entrants to come into the market. We discuss the PSR’s provisional findings here.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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