On 10 May 2022, the European Commission adopted new EU competition rules for vertical distribution agreements that entered into force on 1 June 2022, bringing important amendments to the current rules by partly narrowing the safe harbour but also allowing for more flexibility. Distribution agreements that are already in force on 31 May 2022 benefit from a one-year transitional period.
Oliver Heinisch is a partner in the Antitrust and Competition Practice Group in the firm's London office.
Following the publication and consultation on a green paper earlier this year the UK Government has now published new takeover rules, adding new thresholds to the relevant provisions of the UK Enterprise Act giving the Secretary of State (SoS) additional powers to scrutinize mergers taking place after July 11, 2018. These powers are based on public interest in transactions that raise national security concerns and in which the Government would have otherwise not been able to intervene. This is part of the UK Government’s wider review of national security and infrastructure investment review which will bring additional legislative changes in future. The Government’s stated reasons for the new rules include technological and economic changes as well as a changing national security threat which meant that thresholds were no longer effectively safeguarding the UK’s national security in all areas of the economy. In addition to giving the SoS broader grounds to intervene the additional rules also add a new jurisdictional test for merger review and as such apply to the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which is responsible for reviewing such mergers on competition law grounds.
Continue Reading New Lower UK Thresholds for Scrutiny of Mergers Affecting National Security
Our “trends for 2018” are only a selection of interesting developments to watch for in 2018.
Within the political and legislative cycle of the European Union, 2018 promises to be an eventful year, given that it is the last full year before the 2019 EU elections when a new European Commission will be appointed and the European Parliament will hold new elections. This means, in practice, that there will be pressure in 2018 on the current European Commission and European Parliament to act on all their initiatives and to complete their legislative agenda.
Our team of EU lawyers will continue to report on noteworthy developments including for instance, Brexit and its implications for competition and regulatory policies, the surge in foreign direct investment controls, the opening of new competition enforcement fronts, the practical implementation of the EU damages directive, as well as the development of alternative means of resolution in competition investigations and their impact on rights of defence.
Continue Reading 10 EU Competition & Regulatory Trends to Watch for in 2018
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed in a short judgment of 6 December 2017 that a prohibition imposed on authorized distributors from using third party platforms for the sale of their luxury products is in line with European competition law provided certain conditions are met. This judgment also ends an ongoing debate and confirms that selective distribution systems are indeed permissible if they are used to preserve and enhance the luxury image of a product. This outcome is not surprising to those familiar with the Court’s case law and is welcomed by companies running selective distribution networks to market their luxury products. However, the judgment is specific to the facts at hand and bans relating to online platforms will have to be reviewed on the basis of the merits of each case and of the products concerned.
Continue Reading Selective Distribution Systems and Bans on Sales of Luxury Products via Online Market Platforms: Initial Thoughts on the CJEU’s Coty Judgment
A summary of the European Commission’s Policy Document on standard essential patents (SEPs).
After considerable preparations and consultation the European Commission has on 29 November 2017 issued a Communication  “setting out the EU approach to standard essential patents”. This Communication is part of the wider Europe’s Digital Single Market initiative. Notably, however, this long-awaited paper is not likely to change the current landscape of FRAND litigation and licensing, and intentionally does not address the most controversial issues of the current debate.
Continue Reading An EC Communication on SEPs – Not More Not Less
In years past, the focus of private international antitrust disputes was the United States. Over a century of experience, treble damages, class actions and the American rule for attorneys’ fees – plus robust enforcement by the Antitrust Division – have combined to make the United States the natural hub for private cases. That is still true today, but to a lesser extent because emerging private remedies and processes have made European jurisdictions much more viable, and U.S. courts are taking an increasingly close look at the limits of their jurisdiction. The result is litigation increasing across newly empowered jurisdictions: sophisticated and well informed coordination, case management and overarching strategy now are critical.
Continue Reading Eyes Across the Atlantic: Coordination and Management of Global Private Antitrust Litigation*
On 29 March 2017, the same day that United Kingdom has officially launched the Brexit process, the European Commission (Commission) blocked the proposed 29 billion Euro merger between Deutsche Börse AG (DBAG) and London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) under the EU Merger Regulation; however, the Commission decision (M.7995) has not been published yet. DBAG and LSEG are the two largest stock exchange operators and own the stock exchanges of Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as several of the largest European clearing houses. In August 2016, the parties filed a merger notification to the Commission with discussions starting as early as February 2016. Since 2000, DBAG and LSEG have tried to merge three times hoping to create a heavyweight in the European stock market. DBAG had previously already been blocked to merge with NYSE Euronext in 2012.
Continue Reading European Commission Blocks Merger of London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse
Today, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a 60-second summary for company directors to avoid disqualification for breaches of competition law. Please see the full text of the guidance here. This is part of a series of CMA short and simple guides on competition law and is relevant to all directors whose companies fall within the scope of EU or UK competition law.
Continue Reading Company Directors Beware – the CMA’s Disqualification Order
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom by a majority of 8 to 3 has today confirmed that triggering the exit procedure from the European Union requires an Act of Parliament.
As such the Supreme Court disagreed with the current UK Government which had argued that Government ministers could rely on their prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union without prior authorisation by Parliament. Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies had argued that they too should be consulted. The judges did not agree with that view.…
Sheppard Mullin’s EU team has created a list of major legal shifts that await General Counsel and Compliance Officers in the areas of competition, EU regulatory and trade in 2017. These challenges may have an impact on your corporate and commercial strategies.
Our predictions include:…
The center of gravity when it comes to private litigation of international antitrust disputes is still in the United States, but two trends affecting the legal landscape in the U.S., U.K., and EU are shifting it across the Atlantic. In this article originally published in Competition – The Journal of the Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section of the State Bar of California (Vol. 25, No. 2, Fall 2016), we address these trends and further discuss their implications for lawyers handling major antitrust disputes that have global footprints. Much of the discussion will focus on cartel litigation because those cases often involve global issues and present the most obvious examples for our discussion.
Continue Reading The Rapidly Changing Landscape of Private Global Antitrust Litigation: Increasingly Serious Implications for U.S. Practitioners