Last year, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division announced that it was creating a Procurement Collusion Strike Force  (Strike Force) to focus on bid-rigging in public procurement noting that this area was “particularly vulnerable to collusion.”  The creation of the Strike Force followed the Antitrust Division’s recent focus on anticompetitive conduct in government contracting.

Continue Reading DOJ Touts the Success of its Procurement Collusion Strike Force and Seeks a Global Effort on This Front

Competition law is a powerful tool that businesses can employ to recover from a crisis. Join members of Steptoe’s EU Competition team for a series of short On Demand videos that will help guide your business through the economic uncertainty post-COVID-19.

Click here to access the first video.

Part I – Routes to Market in

In a series of recent statements, the UK Financial Conduct Authority  (FCA) has set out how it expects the insurance industry to help consumers and businesses affected by the coronavirus.

The FCA would like to see a degree of consistency across the industry in how business interruption claims are handled. To help to achieve such consistency, the FCA is planning to ask the English court to make declarations about the scope of various business interruption (BI) clauses.


Continue Reading FCA’s Statements about Insurance and the Coronavirus: Competition Considerations

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, not a single day passes without the news on shortages of medicines or medical equipment.  The issue of ‘shortages of essential products and services’ is not specific to the UK, Italy or Spain.  At these challenging times, the shortages are occurring on a daily basis on a global scale.  Here in Europe, the European Commission (Commission) has published a Temporary Framework Communication, dated 8 April 2020 (C(2020) 3200 final), which sets out forms of cooperation among companies, such as in the health sector, which may be allowed in order to tackle and to avoid “shortages of essential products and services resulting first and foremost from the rapid and exponential growth of demand” (such as in medical supplies needed to treat COVID-19 patients).

Continue Reading COVID-19 and Cooperation Among Companies in the Health Sector

At the EU level, Commission staff have adapted to working from home but are aware of the challenges in dealing with tight timeframes presented by merger notifications (including securing meaningful input from industry participants which may be affected by a transaction).  The Commission has therefore issued an appeal to request parties to delay merger filings as much as possible.  Other authorities have indicated that review timeframes may be extended.

Continue Reading Changes to Merger Rules

In these extraordinary times, economies around the World including Member States are pumping money into their economies.  Businesses and whole sectors are crying out for special support.  State support in the EEA above a low de minimis threshold is subject to strict state aid rules which requires pre-clearance by the European Commission under strict conditions. 

It is important to remember that as businesses struggle in these times to cope with issues like distribution, sourcing ingredients, components and other resources, they may look to collaborate with rivals.   In fact, many businesses have been doing exactly that.  Collaboration between competitors can be perfectly benign and may no anti-competitive effects (for example, in setting standards, lobbying efforts).  However, competition rules do apply and coordination of prices, market sharing, cost allocation, coordinated output reductions or sharing competitive sensitive information, would be prohibited.  Some restrictions are regarded as ‘hard core’ and rarely worthy of exemption (price fixing, customer and market allocations and quantity restrictions).  Penalties for infringement could lead to significant fines and possible private damages litigation.

Continue Reading Collaboration Between Competitors in Times of Crisis

Perhaps the first authority to warn about the perceived risks, the UK’s CMA issued a warning on 6rh March 2020 to traders about taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.  CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “We urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. We also remind members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.”  This warning was triggered by the rising cost of hand sanitisers.  The CMA went on to warn that it would take enforcement action against those suspected of such conduct and, if necessary, would also consider requesting the Government to introduce price controls.  It has created a taskforce to monitor market behaviour during the crisis.  Details about the Taskforce, its mandate and how to lodge complaints can be found here.

Continue Reading Measures to Protect Against Predatory Conduct