Archives: Competition Law

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UK government publishes “no-deal” state aid notice

On 23 August 2018, the UK government published a  notice, committing the UK to a continued application of state aid rules even in the event of no deal being agreed with the EU on the UK’s withdrawal. The notice explains how EU state aid rules would be transposed into UK domestic legislation. The Competition and … Continue Reading

Compliance Plus? Proposed fine reductions for audited, strengthened compliance programs

Compliance, and in particular competition compliance, remains at the top of in-house counsel’s agenda. In particular, compliance is fundamental to reducing competition law infringements – “prevention is better than cure” – but in-house counsel often face difficulties in getting the appropriate level of support and budget for effective competition law compliance. We have recently published … Continue Reading

Covington Alert: UK Payment Systems Regulator Announces Market Review into Card-Acquiring Services

The UK Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has announced its intention to carry out a market review into the supply to merchants of card-acquiring services by financial services providers. In this Covington Alert, my colleagues Louise Freeman, Charlotte Hill and Elaine Whiteford look at the powers the PSR holds, why the review has been initiated and … Continue Reading

Concurrences Article – Leniency and Competition Law: An Overview of EU and National Case Law

More than 20 years after the adoption of the first European Commission Leniency Notice, the detection and sanctioning of cartels remains a key feature of the enforcement agenda of the European Commission and – the currently still 28 – European Union national competition authorities. Leniency programmes are a crucial tool in uncovering cartels, with a large … Continue Reading

Germany’s first veto against a foreign investment under new FDI rules

[Updated] On 1 August 2018, the German government was set to block a foreign investment in a German company under the new foreign direct investment (FDI) screening rules for the first time. However, the veto was not required as, on the same day, the Chinese investor withdrew from the deal. Companies involved in M&A activities … Continue Reading

Parental liability in EU cartel enforcement: has the presumption of decisive control become irrebuttable?

Does the General Court’s recent ruling in Goldman Sachs/European Commission provide new guidance on the parent liability of financial investors in cartel cases? Yes and no. Yes, because it shows what will not suffice to avoid parental liability. No, because it is silent as to whether in fact and if so how a financial investor … Continue Reading

The European Parliament publishes a study on financial technology and competition law

On 9 July 2018, the Economic Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (the “EP”) published a study identifying potential competition law concerns in the financial technology (“FinTech”) sector (the “Study”).… Continue Reading

European Commission – Annual Activity Report – DG Competition 2017

Introduction On 11 June 2018, the European Commission (“Commission”) published DG Competition’s 2017 Annual Activity Report (“Report”) to provide an overview of its pursuit of its competition policy objectives and enforcement of EU competition rules in 2017.  In its Report, the Commission indicates that it has continued to prioritise competition on the merits and that … Continue Reading

Is the heat on in the syndicated loans market? Spanish Competition Authority fines banks for price fixing on interest rate derivatives

On 13 February 2018, the Spanish Markets and Competition Commission (“CNMC”) fined four major Spanish banks €91 million for colluding to fix the price of interest-rate derivatives (“IRDs”) attached to syndicated loans above market price.  The decision is an additional indication that syndicated loans are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of competition authorities, after the … Continue Reading

European Commission Launches New Antitrust Investigation into LNG Destination Clauses

On June 21, 2018, the European Commission (“Commission”) started a new investigation to determine whether so-called destination clauses in Qatar Petroleum’s liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) supply contracts with European buyers infringe the European Union (“EU”) antitrust rules.… Continue Reading

Jumping the gun: the CMA’s approach to breaches of the standstill obligation

Introduction Gun-jumping has been in the spotlight this year both at the European level and in the UK. At the EU level, first there was DG Competition’s record fining of Altice of € 124.5m (here) and then the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) ruled on the scope of the EU law standstill obligation … Continue Reading

Jumping the gun: some clarification from the Court of Justice

Introduction In a recent blog post where we reflected on DG Competition fining Altice a record € 124.5m for gun-jumping, we already anticipated the Ernst & Young P/S v Konkurrenceradet judgment where, for the first time, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) provides guidance on the scope of the standstill obligation under the … Continue Reading

Advanced Competition Law Conference – Joint Presentation on Cartel Enforcement with Covington’s Johan Ysewyn and DG Competition’s Maria Jaspers

On 15 May 2018, Johan Ysewyn and Maria Jaspers (DG COMP) presented on recent major developments in the area of EU cartel enforcement at the Advanced Competition Law Conference in London. Their annual dual-presentation covered the traditional three pillars of enforcement, policy and court review. The topics covered in this latest instalment included: A review … Continue Reading

German-Austrian draft Guidance on transaction value thresholds for pre-merger notification

On 14 May 2018, Germany’s and Austria’s competition authorities published a draft guidance paper on the transaction value-based merger control thresholds which had been introduced last year. Under these new thresholds, a transaction has to be notified if the value of the consideration exceeds EUR 400 million in Germany / EUR 200 million in Austria, … Continue Reading

Covington Artificial Intelligence Update: European Commission Publishes Communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe

On April 25, 2018, the European Commission (EC) published its “Artificial Intelligence for Europe” communication (the Communication), in which it sets out a roadmap for its AI initiatives. Having acknowledged the crucial need for a boost of AI in the EU, the EC commits to supporting investment, (re)considering legislation and soft law initiatives, and coordinating … Continue Reading

Covington Artificial Intelligence Update: House of Lords Select Committee publishes report on the future of AI in the UK

Reflecting evidence from 280 witnesses from the government, academia and industry, and nine months of investigation, the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence published its report “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?” on April 16, 2018 (the Report). The Report considers the future of AI in the UK, from perceived … Continue Reading

EU Court’s Analysis of “Competitive Disadvantage” in Rare Price Discrimination Case

On 19 April 2018, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) issued its judgment in MEO vs Autoridade da Concorrência, providing guidance as to what amounts to “competitive disadvantage”, an important element required to show abusive price discrimination under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).  The CJEU found … Continue Reading

The UK Government Seeks Views on the Regulation of Digital Markets for a Post-Brexit Great Britain

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has just released a 75-page Green Paper on Modernising Consumer Markets, setting out the Government’s main priorities for the digital economy in a post-Brexit Britain. The Green Paper reflects on the current state of consumer markets and regulation, and lays down the key challenges and … Continue Reading

Update: EDEKA “Wedding Rebates” – German Federal Supreme Court Answers Key Questions on Abuse of Relative Market Power

Germany’s Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) has now published its full judgment in EDEKA – wedding rebates (case KVR 3/17) on allegedly anti-competitive requests for preferential rebates and conditions by food retailers. For background on the preceding decisions of the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt – BKartA) and Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (OLG Düsseldorf) … Continue Reading

Hoffmann-La Roche – Some Broader Implications

On 29 January, Covington hosted its webinar on the ECJ’s Hoffmann-La Roche vs Autorità Garante della Concurrenza e del Mercato judgment.  Miranda Cole discussed the potential implications of this judgment for market definition, field of use licences and indication-based pricing.  The full presentation can be found here. The Italian Council of State referred five questions … Continue Reading

EDEKA “wedding rebates” – German Federal Supreme Court removes roadblock to antitrust enforcement in food retail sector

On 23 January 2018, Germany’s Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) handed down its judgment on alleged anti-competitive requests for preferential rebates and conditions by food retailers (case KVR 3/17 – not yet published).  This is an important judgment as it removes a major roadblock to antitrust enforcement in the food retail sector in Germany, … Continue Reading

The EU Commission Communication on SEPs: a workable resolution to patent wars in the EU, or more competition litigation battles ahead?

The European Commission published its highly anticipated Communication Setting out the EU approach to Standard Essential Patents at the end of 2017, as part of a package to protect Europe’s know-how and innovation leadership (see Commission Press Release Intellectual property: Protecting Europe’s know-how and innovation leadership). The first section proposes concrete measures to improve the … Continue Reading

Competition Law Enforcement Trends in the U.S., Europe and China: Looking Ahead to 2018

2017 was another year of active enforcement globally—including in the U.S., despite the start of a new Presidential Administration touting an aggressive deregulatory agenda. Transactions in consolidated industries drew enforcement fire in both Europe and the United States (Dow/DuPont, ChemChina/Syngenta, Bayer/Monsanto, AT&T/Time Warmer). And, in March, the UK government formally started the “Brexit process,” which … Continue Reading

The UK’s CMA Consults on its Proposed Annual Plan 2018/19

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”) published its proposed “Annual Plan 2018 to 2019” for public consultation last month. Respondents have until January 14 2018, to respond as to whether they agree with the overall direction of the proposed Annual Plan, whether they believe there is anything more that the CMA should be … Continue Reading
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