On Monday April 13, 2020, DOJ and the FTC issued a joint statement warning employers that COVID-19 does not provide a reason to tolerate anticompetitive conduct that harms workers. The agencies said that they are on alert for collusion and other anticompetitive conduct in labor markets during the crisis. They are focused on agreements to
Changes to Merger Rules
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.
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Collaboration Between Competitors in Times of Crisis
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.
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Measures to Protect Against Predatory Conduct
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.
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Sale Restrictions in the European Union Attract Large Fines
On January 30, 2020, The European Commission fined a group of companies belonging to the Comcast Group, including NBCUniversal, €14.327 million for illegally restricting sales of film merchandise products in Europe. The fine already includes a 30% reduction that was awarded for NBCUniversal cooperating with the European Commission beyond what is required by law.
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UK Competition Law Enforcement Post-Brexit: Choppy Waters Ahead
CMA Brexit Draft Guidance
On 28 January 2019 the UK Competition and Markets Authority (‘CMA’) issued draft guidance on the effects of any no-deal Brexit on the CMA’s functions and its enforcement approach. This guidance has been made more urgent by the continuing UK political divisions that have plagued the Brexit process and which could see the UK crash out of the EU without any deal in place on 29 March 2019.…
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New Year’s resolution for EU antitrust compliance teams: “Putting HR practices on my radar screen”
interIn this briefing, we describe how certain employment practices, such as no-poach or wage-fixing agreements, may infringe competition law, a topic that has recently taken centre stage in the US and is also firmly, although more discretely, on the radar of antitrust authorities in Europe, but perhaps not yet on that of companies. Here is why it should be.
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Geoblocking Regulation: Last Minute Recap Of What’s In It
Today is the day: on Monday, December 3, the Geoblocking Regulation (the Regulation) starts applying to online businesses operating across several EU Member States. For those who feel like they need a refresher, below we provide an overview of what is in the Regulation – as well as what is not.
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UK Competition and Market Authority Takes Another Stab at Most Favored Nation Clauses
Brexit may well be around the corner, but antitrust enforcement is still alive and well on the other side of the Channel. On November 2, 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK national competition authority, announced that it had provisionally found that ComparetheMarket, a home insurance price comparison site, may have infringed both…
Halloween Holiday Reading: French Competition Authority Revisits Platform Ban in a Post-Coty World
With Halloween around the corner, the French Competition Authority (FCA) is revisiting chainsaw massacre: on October 24, 2018, it adopted a decision imposing a 7 million euros fine on chainsaw manufacturer Stihl for imposing a de facto ban on online sales to its distributors (see press release here). Even more importantly, contrasting with previous…