Agency agreements

Anticompetitive practices

A US District Court receives notification that the class plaintiffs, state plaintiffs and the defendant have reached an agreement concerning the lawsuit in the e-books prices fixing case (Apple)
DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach (Vienna)
Apple settles with U.S. states and consumers in the e-books price fixing case* According to documents filed in a New York court on 16 June 2014, Apple has reached an agreement in principle with state governments and consumers who filed a class-action lawsuit in the e-books price fixing case (...)

The South African Competition Tribunal dismisses a monopolization case brought by the Competition Commission against a leading brewer and distributor of beer and soft drinks (South African Breweries)
Nortons Incorporated
SA competition enforcer’s distribution monopoly case dismissed by Tribunal* South African Breweries distribution case dismissed The Competition Tribunal of South Africa has dismissed a monopolization case brought by the Competition Commission against South African Breweries (“SAB”). The (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority establishes vertical restrictive agreements between book publishers and retailers and imposes fines (Pécsi Direkt)
Hungarian Competition Authority (Budapest)
Restrictive agreements on the book market* The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal - GVH) determined that Pécsi Direkt Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Kft., Líra Könyv Zrt., Libri Könyvkereskedelmi Kft, and Sun Books Könyvkereskedelmi Kft ("f.a." - being liquidated), which are book (...)

The Serbian Competition Authority exempts an agreement between the national telecommunication company and the distributor of prepaid mobile services containing resale price maintenance clauses (Telecom Serbia - DTM Investments)
Serbian european integration office
The Serbian Antitrust Authority (AA) passed the decision on 13 September 2013 (DTM decision) to individually exempt an agreement on general distribution of prepaid mobile communication services concluded between the “Telecom Serbia” (TS) and the “DTM Investments” (DTM) from prohibition of (...)

The US Court of Southern District of New York clarifies what determines liability of the vertical participant B in an A-B-C information exchange (Apple)
University of Cambridge
e-books: Vertical participation in hub and spoke agreements* The 10 July judgment in the American e-books case (US v Apple) addresses an important question not yet examined under European competition law: what determines the liability of the vertical participant (“B”) in an A-B-C information (...)

The Italian Competition Authority opens an investigation against 8 insurance companies, for breach of Art. 101 TFEU (Unipol Assicurazioni...)
Bonelli Erede Pappalardo (Rome)
By its decision of 5 June 2013, the Italian Competition Authority (‘ICA’ or ‘Authority’) initiated an investigation against eight of the biggest insurance companies active in Italy, in order to verify if in the vertical agreement between each insurance company and its agents (‘agency contracts’), (...)

The EU Commission finds that given the nature of the relevant product, concerted practices covering a substantial part of the EEA may affect the interstate trade (e-books)
Liege Competition and Innovation Institute
Sad but true* I love commitments decisions because they are a quick read. But I also hate dislike them because they leave the reader angry hungry for more. Some evidence: in the E-Books case, the effect on trade condition was deemed fulfilled under the simplest possible sort of analysis: (...)

The European Commission accepts commitments in e-books case (Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Apple)
European Commission (Brussels)
European Commission accepts Commitments in E-Books Case* On 12 December 2012, the European Commission (Commission) accepted formally binding commitments from four international publishers (Simon & Schusters (CBS Corp., USA), HarperCollins (News Corp., USA), Hachette Livre (Lagardère (...)

The EU Commission opens an investigation into alleged anticompetitive practices by five EU and US publishers
Stanford University - Stanford Law School
European Commission investigates companies active in the e-book publishing sector* On 6 December 2011 the European Commission opened an investigation into alleged anticompetitive practices by five EU and US publishers, possibly with the help of Apple, in relation to the sale of e-books in the (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority highlights the distinction between anticompetitive object and effect in the resale price maintenance case on the men’s cloth pants market (Producție Zarah Modern, Cargus Trans, Getin Com)
University of Technology (Tallinn)
On 30 September 2011 the Romanian Competition Authority (CC) established the existence of the resale price maintenance (RPM) clauses in the distribution contracts concluded by SC Producție Zarah Modern SRL(PZM) with its distributorsSC Cargus Trans SRLandSC Getin Com SRLon the market for (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority establishes the existence of resale price maintenance agreements on the market for fresh fruits and vegetables (Interfruct, Albinuța Shops, Profi Rom Food)
University of Technology (Tallinn)
On 31 May 2011 the Romanian Competition Authority (CC) held illegal the resale price maintenance clauses contained in the sales contracts concluded by a wholesaler of fresh fruits and vegetables in the municipality of Bucharest (SC Interfruct SRL) with two retailers (SC Albinuța Shops SRL, SC (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court holds that the contracts between an oil operator and its resale distributors are legal (Repsol)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
I. Background On July 11, 2001, the Spanish Competition Authority (Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia, TDC) resolved the case in its resolution number 490/00. In it, it was decided that Repsol S.A. had engaged in a practice prohibited by Article 1.1 of the Act 16/1989 (the former Antitrust (...)

The US Attorney General in Connecticut investigates potentially anticompetitive e-book deals (Amazon / Apple)
Stanford University - Stanford Law School
Attorney General of Connecticut investigating agreements on e-books* On 2 August 2010 the Attorney General of Connecticut announced an investigation into agreements between e-book publishers and sellers that may encourage coordinated pricing and prevent discounting of e-books. In particular, (...)

The Italian Competition Authority starts investigation against alleged price fixing between the main players in the field of maritime agency service (Servizi di Agenzia Marittima)
Codacons
In December 2007 Italian Competition Authority (hereinafter ICA) was reported about a potential behaviour which could have undermined the competition among maritime service agencies. Many companies were suspected to implement agreements even through using the category associations (Associazione (...)

The European Commission adopts new block exemption regulation and new guidelines on vertical agreements
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
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European Commission - DG JUST
"Vertical Agreements: New Competition Rules for the Next Decade"* I. Introduction On 20 April 2010 the Commission adopted a new Block Exemption Regulation applicable to vertical agreements (hereinafter ‘the Regulation’). At the same time it adopted the contents of accompanying Guidelines on (...)

The Austrian Supreme Court rules that a newspaper distributor cannot be considered an agent under EU competition law (Newspaper Distributor II)
Salzburg University
Background The Austrian Competition Authority (“Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde”) successfully filed an application with the Austrian Cartel Court against a German publishing group, its Austrian subsidiary and an Austrian newspaper distributor. The application was based on certain vertical restraints (...)

The French Competition Authority fines € 6.9 M a football association and a rights for sports management agency for anticompetitive agreements on the market for audiovisual rights (FFF-Sportfive)
Credit Agricole
Following its 2001 and 2004 decisions to investigate competition in the field of management of professional football rights, the Autorité de la concurrence imposed a fine of 6.9 million € on the Fédération Française du football (FFF), the French football association, and Sportfive for their (...)

The French Competition Authority adopts decision relating to agency in women’s clothing and accessories sector (Punto Fa)
Van Bael & Bellis
On 30 June 2009, the French Competition Authority adopted a decision rejecting the complaint brought by the French Minister for the Economy for alleged resale price maintenance involving Punto Fa SL (“Punto Fa”) and its agents in France. Punto Fa is a supplier of women’s clothing and accessories (...)

The Turkish Competition Board publishes a guide to vertical agreements
Erdem & Erdem
Pursuant to Article 5 of the Act for the Protection of Competition numbered 4054 (“Competition Act”), the Turkish Competition Board (“CB”) has the authority to issue communiqués granting block exemptions to agreements which fulfill certain conditions. The CB has issued a Block Exemption Communiqué (...)

The Italian Supreme Administrative Court qualifies the independence criteria applicable to the agent pursuant to EU law upholding the appeal filed by a pharmaceutical company to revoke an antitrust fine imposed by the Italian Antitrust Authority (AstraZeneca)
Rucellai & Raffaelli
Upholding the appeal filed by the claimant AstraZeneca, the Italian Supreme Administrative Court (hereinafter also the “Court”) ruled that the illicit conduct of the agent Pan Service - operating in the market for several principals and bearing all the related economical and financial risks - (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal upholds the NCA decision to impose € 580,000 fine on a national scale agreement aimed at hindering the free setting of prices by product distributors (Master Cycle, Bouticycles)
LeMore Avocats
Description of the impugned case The 22 companies implemented a series of anticompetitive agreements and introduced into the terms of sale and other distribution contracts anticompetitive clauses, aimed at hindering the free setting of prices by the product distributors. Small retailers (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court declares that the “atypical agency agreements” between oil companies and Spanish petrol stations come within the scope of Art. 81.1 EC and national mirror provision, after having requested ECJ preliminary ruling (CEEES /CEPSA)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
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Garrigues
On 4 May 1995, the Spanish Confederation of Service Station Businesses (“CEEES” in its Spanish initials) filed a complaint with the Servicio de Defensa de la Competencia (Lowest branch of the Spanish competition authority), against certain oil companies, including CEPSA. The CEEES complained that (...)

The Hungarian Competition Office imposes record cartel fine in the car insurance sector (Allianz)
Oppenheim
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Oppenheim - Budapest
On 21 December 2006 the HCO delivered its decision in the first large-scale cartel case in the Hungarian car insurance sector (Decision n° Vj-51/2005). In its proceedings the HCO investigated the two largest insurance companies’ vertical relationships with car dealers (who also act as car repair (...)

A Spanish Commercial Court declares null and void an exclusive purchasing agreement on the basis of Art. 81.1 EC (El Mareny/Repsol)
London School of Economics
Factual background The present judgment is a new chapter of a lengthy saga concerning agreements signed between petrol distributors and Repsol Comercial de Productos Petrolíferos, S.A. (hereinafter, “Repsol CPP”), a subsidiary of the former monopoly in the Spanish petrol sector. This saga has (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court rejects the action against the NCA’s interim measures fining € 3 M price fixing in the framework of “non-genuine” agency agreements (Repsol)
London School of Economics
On 11 July 2001, the Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia (hereinafter, “the NCA”) adopted a decision (“resolución”) in which it found that Repsol, S.A. (now Repsol YPF, S.A., hereinafter referred to as “Repsol”) acted in breach of Article 1(1) of the Spanish Competition Act. More precisely, the NCA (...)

A Spanish Court considers a distribution contract to be a “genuine” agency agreement therefore not caught by Art. 81.1 EC (Rutamur / Repsol)
London School of Economics
Compañía arrendataria del monopolio del petróleo, S.A. (hereinafter, “Campsa”) and Rutamur, S.A.(“Rutamur”) concluded in December 1988 an agency agreement concerning the distribution of oil products. The latter operated from premises hired to it by Campsa. The commission was set by reference to the (...)

The Madrid Commercial Court finds a distribution agreement to be null and void and decides that the claimant is not entitled to recover the sums paid by virtue of a contract (Aloyas / Repsol)
London School of Economics
Repsol Comercial de Productos Petrolíferos, S.A. (hereinafter, “Repsol”) and Estación de Servicio Aloyas, S.L., S.A. (“Aloyas”) concluded on 14 March 1995 a 10-year contract concerning the distribution of oil products. The parties agreed that the contract was an agency one. The term “agent” was even (...)

A Spanish Tribunal finds that a distribution agreement may not be a ’genuine’ agency agreement and thus may fall within the scope of Art. 81.1 EC (Gebe / BP Oil España)
London School of Economics
Compañía arrendataria del monopolio del petróleo, S.A. (hereinafter, “Campsa”) and Gebe, S.L. (“Gebe”) concluded in July 1988 an agreement concerning the distribution of oil products. The latter operated from premises hired to him by Campsa. The agency agreement included a non-compete obligation and (...)

A Spanish Court dismisses the appeal seeking to qualify an agency agreement as a resale agreement (Melón - E.S. Zarza / Repsol)
London School of Economics
On 2 January 2003, the Juzgado de Primera Instancia n° 74 de Madrid dismissed an action brought by Melón, S.A. (“Melón”) and E.S. Zarza, S.L. (“Zarza”), two undertakings active in the distribution of oil products, against Repsol Comercial de Productos Petrolíferos, S.A. (“Repsol”), an undertaking (...)

The Administrative Court of Appeal of Athens upholds a decision of the Competition Authority condemning the two major national airlines for concerted practice (Olympic Airways/Aegean Airlines)
Hellenic Competition Authority (Athens)
The case concerned the common conduct from the two major Greek airlines (100% of the internal market) to travel agencies during 2001 and 2002. This behaviour has been condemned by the Greek Competition Authority (Hellenic Competition Commission, thereafter HCC) in 2003 (Decision 249/III/2003). (...)

A Spanish Court refuses to qualify a contract as a resale agreement and holds that the qualification given by “administrative bodies” to similar agreements is not binding upon national courts (Melón / Repsol)
London School of Economics
Repsol Comercial de productos petrolíferos S.A. (hereinafter, “Repsol”), supplied oil products to Melón S.A. (hereinafter, “Melón”), pursuant to an agency agreement signed between the parties. Considering that it was not a “genuine” agency agreement and that Commission Regulation (EC) n° 2790/1999, of (...)

The Spanish Audiencia Provincial de Madrid refuses to submit a preliminary reference to the ECJ considering that this would only be relevant if the agreements at stake were deemed to be agency ones (Ahigal and Melón/Repsol)
London School of Economics
Compañía arrendataria del monopolio del petróleo, S.A. (hereinafter, ‘Campsa’) concluded an agency agreement concerning the distribution of oil products with two companies, Ahigal, S.A. (“Ahigal”) and Melón, S.A. (“Melón”). In 2003, Ahigal and Melón decided to bring an action against Repsol Comercial de (...)

A Spanish Court declares null and void on the basis of Art. 81.1 EC a “non-genuine” agency agreement involving price-fixing and concluded for a period exceeding 10 years (Clau/Cepsa)
London School of Economics
Compañía arrendataria del monopolio del petróleo, S.A. (hereinafter, “Campsa”) and Clau, S.A. “Clau”) concluded in December 1988 a series of agreements concerning the distribution of oil products. Clau decided to grant a “droit de surface” (“derecho de superficie”) of a piece of land it owns so that (...)

A Spanish jurisdiction holds that the application of EC law would only be pertinent in case the agreements are deemed “non-genuine” agency ones (La Safor/Compañía Logística de Hidrocarburos)
London School of Economics
Compañía arrendataria del monopolio del petróleo, S.A. (hereinafter, “Campsa”) and Automoción y Servicion La Safor, S.L. (“La Safor”) concluded in March 1990 a number of contracts related to the distribution of oil products. The contractual relationship included an agency agreement as well as a (...)

A Spanish Court annuls a judgment rendered in first instance on qualification of a so-called agency agreement in the oil products distribution sector (Repsol)
London School of Economics
Compañía arrendataria del monopolio del petróleo, S.A. (hereinafter, “Campsa”) and Caminas, S.A. (“Caminas”) concluded in July 1981, November 1981 and July 1989 several agreements related to the exploitation of a gas station (“the agreements”) by the latter. Caminas brought an action for annulment (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority finds that RPM in agency agreements does not infringe competition law (Westel Mobil)
Oppenheim
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Oppenheim - Budapest
Description of the impugned case The supplier (Westel Mobil, a mobile telecommunications service provider), concluded agreements on the marketing and sale of mobile telecommunications services and discounted cell phones with different dealers; the agreements contained RPM clauses. The HCO (...)

The “Repsol Saga” : Background Note on “genuine” agency agreements in Spanish Competition Law
London School of Economics
Spanish Competition Appeal Tribunal (Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia), 11 July 2001, Resolución n° 490/00, Repsol Background Note On 11 July 2001, the Spanish Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia (the “NCA”) adopted a prohibition decision against Repsol Comercial de Productos (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority states that the “atypical agency agreements” between oil companies and petrol stations come within the scope of Art. 81.1 EC and national mirror provision (CEPSA)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
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Garrigues
It is rare that the eight members of the Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia (highest branch of the Spanish Competition Authority) express four different views on one single case. However, that happened in the 2001 CEPSA case (TDC’s decision of 30 may 2001 in case 493/00). One of those views (...)

The Luxembourg District Court holds that an agreement between a petrol company and a petrol station is an agency agreement outside the scope of the prohibition of cartels (Aral / Koepfler)
Arendt & Medernach (Luxembourg)
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NautaDutilh (Luxembourg)
Case Koepfler s.à r.l. (“Koepfler”) operated on an independent basis one of the petrol stations of Aral Luxembourg S.A. (“Aral”), a subsidiary of the German petrol group Aral. Aral and Koepfler had concluded an agency agreement in this respect in 1984. Pursuant to this agreement Koepfler had to (...)

The German Federal Court of Justice holds that a health insurer does not violate the vertical price fixing prohibition by agreeing with care providers on fixed prices for the services that the care providers render to insured patients (Zahnersatz aus Manila)
Linklaters (Dusseldorf)
Description of the impugned case The Court states that the health insurer’s fixing prices for certain dental services provided to insured patients does not constitute an unlawful vertical price fixing agreement due to the fact that the insurer finally has to pay for the dental services. As (...)

Dominance

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court confirms the NCA’s decision in a leading agency case: Hard life of dominant undertakings in the Czech Republic (Sazka)
Government of the Czech Republic
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European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
By its decision of 20 November 2008, the Czech Supreme Administrative Court confirmed the decision of the Regional Court of Brno and hence the decisions of the Office for the Protection of Competition by which Sazka, the dominant Czech operator of betting games and lotteries, was found guilty (...)

The Czech Competition Office applies the EC Guidelines on vertical restraints to the dominant operator of lotteries and finds it guilty of abuse of dominant position (Sazka)
Government of the Czech Republic
On 20 July 2005 the Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition confirmed a first-instance decision whereby Sazka (the dominant Czech operator of betting games and lotteries) had been found guilty of abusing its dominant position. At the same time, the Chairman reduced the fine (...)

Regulations

The French Competition Authority issues an opinion on the possible implementation of a single price system for digital books
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Digital books: the Autorité de la concurrence believes that observing this market, still in its infancy, is a necessary prerequisite.* The Minister for Culture and Communication has sought an opinion from the (...)

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