August 2021

General antitrust

The French Competition Authority welcomes the partial opening to competition of the sale of visible spare parts
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Car spare parts : the Autorité de la concurrence welcomes the partial opening to competition of the sale of visible spare parts* Adopted on 24 August 2021, the bill n° 2021-1104 of 22 August 2021 on combating climate change and strengthening resilience to its effects allows for the gradual (...)

The Australian Competition Authority seeks insights on the interstate rail network regulation
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
ACCC seeks insights on interstate rail network regulation* The way that Australia’s interstate rail network is regulated is under review and the ACCC has today released an issues paper calling for input from businesses that rely on the network. The interstate rail network runs across five (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority publishes a draft of its report on the accelerated sector inquiry it conducted on the domestic brick market
Hungarian Competition Authority (Budapest)
Accelerated sector inquiry on the brick market: market concentration, significant differences in distibutors’ prices* The Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) has published the draft of its report on the accelerated sector inquiry it has conducted on the domestic market of ceramic masonry (...)

The Indian and Japanese Competition Authorities sign a memorandum on cooperation
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
The CCI and the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) (Competition Authorities) concluded a Memorandum on Cooperation on 6 August 2021. India and Japan had earlier entered into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force on 1 August 2011, which included provisions that (...)

The French Competition Authority publishes its annual report for 2020 and gives an outlook of its enforcing action
Bird & Bird (Paris)
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Bird & Bird (Paris)
The French Competition Authority (“FCA”) has recently published its annual report for 2020. The study provides a summary of the 2020’s major cases and gives an overview of the FCA’s focus for the coming years. During this year marked by the Covid-19 crisis, the report highlights the FCA’s sustained (...)

Anticompetitive practices

The US DoJ announces that a commercial flooring company pleaded guilty to bid-rigging and price-fixing (Mr. David’s)
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Commercial Flooring Company Pleads Guilty to Antitrust and Money Laundering Charges* Mr. David’s Flooring International LLC (Mr. David’s), a Chicago-based commercial flooring contractor, pleaded guilty after being charged for its role in a long-running conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for (...)

The Polish Competition Authority fines a dietary supplements company and its two executives for colluding with distributors to apply minimum resale prices (Solgar)
Polish Competition Authority (Warsaw)
Decision of the President of UOKiK - collusion on the dietary supplements market* President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny issued a decision stating that the prices of Solgar brand dietary supplements were determined as a result of an arrangement aimed at limiting competition. This means that (...)

The New Zealand Competition Authority issues an anti-collusion reminder to businesses supplying essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic Free
New Zealand Commerce Commission (Wellington)
Commission issues anti-collusion reminder to businesses supplying essential services* The Commerce Commission is reminding all businesses supplying essential services in the current nationwide COVID-19 lockdown of their obligations under the Commerce Act. The Commission recognises that the (...)

The Russian Competition Authority conducts anticartel inspections of the largest manufacturers of rebars (NLMK PJSC / Tulachermet-Steel / PMH Management)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS Russia conducts anticartel inspections of the largest manufacturers of rebar* There are data at the regulation of the authority that may indicate signs of price collusion, the consequence of which may be the growth and maintenance of selling prices for rebar Earlier, the FAS Russia on (...)

The Indian Competition Authority fines a leading automobile manufacturer €26 million for its discount control policies in only the second case in a decade finding RPM practices anticompetitive (Maruti Suzuki India)
Khaitan (New Delhi)
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Khaitan (New Delhi)
On 23 August 2021, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) found Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) liable for adversely impacting competition in the passenger vehicles segment. The finding marks the conclusion of a two-year-long antitrust probe into MSIL’s implementation of a “discount control (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority dismantles a cartel that altered the results of tenders for the maintenance and operation services of the State Road Network (Aceinsa / Alvac / Audeca / Api)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC dismantles a cartel that altered the results of tenders for the maintenance and operation services of the State Road Network* The cartel, involving 12 companies, was awarded 71 of the 101 Ministry of Development tenders between 2014 and 2018.The sanctioned companies systematically (...)

The Brazilian Competition Authority fines ten office and school supplies companies for bid rigging (Comercial Armarinho Oliveira / Livraria e Papelaria Boa Vista / Livraria e Leal Dantas)
Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) (Brasilia)
Office and school suppliers found guilty of bid rigging in Pernambuco Cartel* CADE levied fines totalling BRL 1.5 million on ten companies and five individuals involved in the scheme In the hearing of this Wednesday (18 August), the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) found ten (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal certifies the first competition class action on behalf of 46 million consumers who suffered loss as a result of anti-competitive interchange fees imposed by a payment company between 1992 and 2008 (Merricks / MasterCard)
Ashurst (London)
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Ashurst (London)
On 18 August 2021, the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal ("CAT") certified the application by Mr Walter Merricks CBE to bring an opt-out class action on behalf of 46 million UK consumers who suffered loss as a result of anticompetitive interchange fees imposed by Mastercard between 1992 and 2008. (...)

The German Competition Authority imposes a € 2 million fine on a national manufacturer of sustainable ergonomic backpacks for price-fixing (Fond Of)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt imposes fine on the Cologne-based company Fond Of GmbH* The Bundeskartellamt has imposed a fine totalling around 2 million euros on Fond Of GmbH, a company based in Cologne, on account of vertical price fixing. Fond Of specialises in the development and manufacture of school (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority closes its investigation into a possible violation of competition laws in home-decor sector due to having to prioritize other investigations
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
ACM closes investigation into possible violation of competition rules in home-decor sector* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has closed its investigation into a possible violation of competition rules in the home-decor sector. ACM gives priority to other (...)

The US FTC urges the Federal Reserve Board to require debit card gatekeepers to compete fairly
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
FTC Urges Federal Reserve Board to Require Debit Card Gatekeepers to Compete Fairly* As mobile and electronic payments become the norm, Commission staff advocate for more competition to protect businesses and families from unfair fees The Federal Trade Commission announced that staff have (...)

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismisses antitrust claims against two Chinese pharmaceutical companies for reasons of international comity (Animal Science Products / Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (New York)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (New York)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (New York)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued a 2-1 decision in In re Vitamin C Antitrust Litig., dismissing antitrust claims against two Chinese pharmaceutical companies for reasons of international comity in a case that has lasted over 15 years. On August 10, 2021, the (...)

The Latvian Competition Authority fines ten construction companies €16 million for being part of a bid-rigging cartel (Re & Re / Velve / Skonto Būve...)
Latvian Competition Council (Riga)
The Competition Council fines 10 construction companies for participating in the cartel* On July 30, the Competition Council (the CC) adopted a decision in the so-called “construction companies’ cartel” case, detecting long-term prohibited agreement of ten construction companies on the (...)

The Latvian Competition Authority sanctions a local municipality for abusing its dominant position in the organization of waste management (Jelgava Municipality)
Latvian Competition Council (Riga)
The CC punishes Jelgava’s Municipality for the abuse of a dominant position in the organization of waste management* On July 22, the Competition Council (CC) decided to punish Jelgava’s Municipality for abuse of a dominant position related to the municipality’s actions, unreasonably and (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Russian Competition Authority imposes a fine on an online travel agency for abuse of its dominant position (Booking.com)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS Russia fined Booking.com B.V. by 1.3 Billion Rub* The company abused its dominant position in the Russian market The FAS Russia imposed a turnover fine on Booking.com B.V. (Netherlands) equal to 1.3 billion RUB for abuse of its dominant position in the market. The company operates the (...)

The Russian Competition Authority issues a warning to a Big Tech company after receiving complaints that the company prohibits informing clients about the alternative payment methods in the App Store applications (Apple)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS Russia issued a warning to Apple* The company prohibits informing clients about the alternative payment methods in the App Store applications The FAS Russia received complaints from users of iOS devices and application developers. They note that in some cases it is cheaper to buy a (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority closes an investigation regarding an alleged abuse of dominance through denying or delaying access to codes and activation tools required for the maintenance and repair of medical imaging devices (Philips Turkey)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
The Turkish Competition Board (the “Board”) launched a full-fledged investigation against Türk Philips A.Ş (“Philips Turkey”) into allegations of abuse of dominance through denying or delaying access to codes and activation tools required for the maintenance and repair of medical imaging devices (...)

The Australian Competition Authority announces new rules and regulations regarding the dominance of Big Tech companies on app marketplaces (Google / Apple)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Platforms’ dominance of apps market needs to be addressed* New rules and regulations may be needed in addition to enforcement action by competition regulators worldwide to rectify concerns about the dominance of Apple and Google in app marketplaces, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said today. In a speech (...)

The US FTC files an amended complaint against a social media company alleging it resorted to illegal buy-or-bury scheme to crush competition after string of failed attempts to innovate (Facebook)
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
FTC Alleges Facebook Resorted to Illegal Buy-or-Bury Scheme to Crush Competition After String of Failed Attempts to Innovate* Agency’s amended complaint details how the monopolist survived existential threats by illegally acquiring innovative competitors and burying successful app developers. (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority investigates possible monopolistic practice in the commercialization, storage and transport of oil products
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
COFECE notifies an economic agent of a statement of probable responsibility for a possible relative monopolistic practice in the commercialization, storage and transport of oil products* With this notification of a statement of probable responsibility, the trial-like procedure initiates, in (...)

Mergers

The French Competition Authority identifies the provision of co-working spaces for the first time as a relevant market (CDC / Nexity / Miniburo)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence identifies for the first time the provision of coworking spaces as a relevant market* It clears the acquisition of joint control of Miniburo by the French Deposit and Consignment Office (hereafter CDC) and Nexity On 10 August 2021, the French Deposit and (...)

The Australian Competition Authority proposes radical changes to the way mergers are regulated in Australia recommending the introduction of a mandatory and suspensory merger review process
Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Melbourne)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed radical changes to the way mergers are regulated in Australia recommending the introduction of a mandatory and suspensory merger review process with limited merits review by the Australian Competition Tribunal. Key (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority conditionally clears the acquisition of a distributor of educational materials by a publisher after a follow-up investigation (Iddink / Sanoma Learning)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
After follow-up investigation, ACM still conditionally clears acquisition of Iddink Group by Sanoma Learning* Publisher Sanoma Learning is allowed to acquire Iddink Group, a distributor of educational materials. Following a court ruling, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (...)

The Australian Competition Authority proposes substantial changes to national antitrust merger review including introducing mandatory review and increased scrutiny of companies with substantial market power
Jones Day (Melbourne)
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Jones Day (Sydney)
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Jones Day (Washington)
In Short The Situation: The leadership of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ("ACCC") has put forward a series of sweeping proposals that, if implemented, would be the most substantial changes to Australian antitrust merger laws in nearly 30 years. The Context: Today, merger (...)

The Polish Competition Authority receives the withdrawal of a hypermarket chain from the takeover of the commercial space used by a competitor (Kaufland Polska Markety / Wanship / E.Leclerc)
Polish Competition Authority (Warsaw)
Kaufland withdraws application to take over E.Leclerc store in Kielce* Kaufland Polska Markety has withdrawn the application to be granted permission to take over the commercial space used by the hypermarket E.Leclerc in Kielce. Earlier, the President of UOKiK presented his objections to the (...)

The New Zealand Competition Authority unconditionally clears an acquisition of a retail management and distribution company by a media company (Ovato Retail Distribution / Are Media)
New Zealand Commerce Commission (Wellington)
Commission grants clearance for Are Media Limited to acquire Ovato Retail Distribution NZ Limited* The Commission has granted clearance for Are Media Limited to acquire 100% of the shares in Ovato Retail Distribution NZ Limited (ORD NZ). Are Media Limited is the New Zealand subsidiary of (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority clears the acquisition of 3 transport companies specialized in the handling of flowers and plants by a national cooperative of floriculture growers (Royal FloraHolland / Floriway)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
ACM clears acquisition of three floriculture-product transport companies by Dutch cooperative Royal FloraHolland* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has cleared the acquisition of three transport companies specialized in the handling of flowers and plants by Royal Flora (...)

The German Competition Authority approves a merger between ready-mixed concrete manufacturers following a Phase II investigation (Rohrdorfer / Ganser)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Merger between ready-mixed concrete manufacturers: Rohrdorfer can acquire Ganser* After second-phase investigations, the Bundeskartellamt has cleared plans by Südbayerisches Portland-Zementwerk Gebr. Wiesböck & Co. GmbH, Rohrdorf (Rohrdorfer), to acquire all the shares in Ganser Baustoffe (...)

The EU Commission opens a new front by investigating a possible violation of a standstill obligation under the EU Merger Regulation against a concentration that is below usual EU and national thresholds for review (Grail / Illumina)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 20 August 2021, the European Commission (the Commission) announced that it would investigate whether Illumina’s decision, made public on 18 August 2021, to acquire Grail pending the Commission’s review of that transaction under Regulation 139/2004 on the control of concentrations between (...)

The EU Commission starts an investigation for possible breach of a standstill obligation in a merger between two biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies (Grail / Illumina)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission starts investigation for possible breach of the standstill obligation in Illumina / GRAIL transaction* The European Commission has decided to open an investigation to assess whether Illumina’s decision to complete its acquisition of GRAIL, while the Commission’s in-depth (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority clears the merger between two veal producing companies (Van Dam / Van Drie)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
Concentration in veal sector: ACM clears acquisition of Van Dam by Van Drie* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has cleared the acquisition of the Dutch activities of veal company Van Dam by rival company Van Drie Group. Following an extensive investigation into the (...)

The New Zealand Competition Authority publishes a statement of preliminary issues relating to the merger of two electricity retailing companies (Mercury / Trustpower)
New Zealand Commerce Commission (Wellington)
Statement of Preliminary Issues released on Mercury’s application to acquire Trustpower’s retail business* The Commerce Commission has published a statement of preliminary issues relating to the clearance application from Mercury NZ Limited seeking to acquire Trustpower Limited’s retail business. (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority approves the takeover of a company active in the manufacturing and marketing of flexible packaging by an investment company (Wendel / Propak Ambalaj Üretim ve Pazarlama)
Romanian Competition Council (Bucharest)
The Competition Council approved the taking over of Propak Ambalaj Üretim ve Pazarlama A.S by Wendel Group* The Competition Council approved the transaction through which the Wendel Group, through Constantia Flexibles International GmbH, takes over Propak Ambalaj Üretim ve Pazarlama A.S., (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority urges a telecommunication company to modify or clarify the terms of its commercial offer that includes the rental of "smartphones" (Telefónica / DTS)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC urges Telefónica to modify or clarify the terms of the Fusión commercial offer that includes the rental of "smartphones" In 2015, the Commission authorised the concentration between Telefónica / DTS subject to a series of commitments related to pay television. Last April, Telefónica (...)

The US FTC initiates proceedings against two hospitals to prevent their proposed merger (Hackensack Meridian Health / Englewood Healthcare)
Hogan Lovells (Washington)
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Hogan Lovells (Washington)
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Hogan Lovells (Washington)
On 4 August 2021, the District Court of New Jersey granted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) motion for preliminary injunction, preventing Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) and Englewood Healthcare (Englewood) from closing their proposed merger pending an administrative trial before an FTC (...)

The US FTC moves to unilaterally repeal the Hart-Scott-Rodino merger review process to prevent anticompetitive deals and to deal with the surge in merger filings
Bona Law (Detroit)
FTC Continues to Unilaterally Repeal the HSR Merger Review Process* The Federal Trade Commission continues to take subtle steps that, in total, will end up significantly changing the merger review process under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. We have already covered some of the earlier actions: (...)

The US FTC announces that the "tidal wave" of HSR filings continues to strain its ability to investigate deals
Sheppard Mullin (Los Angeles)
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Sheppard Mullin (Washington)
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Sheppard Mullin (Washington)
FTC, Under Pressure from “Tidal Wave” of HSR Filings, To Begin Issuing Close-At-Your-Own-Risk Letters* Many have been wondering when FTC and DOJ will resume granting early termination of the HSR waiting period in deals that present no anticompetitive concerns. Early termination does not appear (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission approves a €520 million Italian scheme to compensate the trade fairs and congress sector for damages suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €520 million Italian scheme to compensate the trade fairs and congress sector for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak* The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €520 million Italian scheme to compensate companies active in the (...)

The EU Commission approves a Belgian capacity mechanism that will contribute to ensuring the security of the electricity supply
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves Belgian Capacity Mechanism* The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Belgium’s capacity mechanism. The measure will contribute to ensuring the security of electricity supply, in particular in view of Belgium’s decision to phase out all (...)

The EU Commission approves a €5.7 billion French scheme to support the production of electricity from small solar installations on buildings
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €5.7 billion French scheme to support production of electricity from small solar installations on buildings* The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €5.7 billion French aid scheme to support renewable electricity production from small (...)

The EU Commission approves a €500 million Greek aid scheme to support the uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by the Covid-19 outbreak Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €500 million Greek aid scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by coronavirus outbreak* The European Commission has approved a Greek scheme to support the uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was (...)

The EU Commission approves a Belgian capacity mechanism in the electricity market under EU State aid rules
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 27 August 2021, the European Commission (the Commission) approved under EU State aid rules Belgium’s capacity mechanism (CM), which aims to ensure the security of electricity supply following Belgium’s decision to phase out all nuclear capacity by 2025. The approval follows the opening of an (...)

The EU Commission approves a €108 million Danish aid measure to support Covid-19-related research and development activities of a healthcare company (Bavarian Nordic) Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €108 million Danish aid measure to support coronavirus-related research and development activities of Bavarian Nordic* The European Commission has approved a €108 million Danish aid measure to support coronavirus-related research and development (R&D) (...)

The EU Commission approves €1 billion Cypriot scheme to support enterprises and self-employed individuals in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €1 billion Cypriot scheme to support enterprises and self-employed individuals in context of coronavirus outbreak* The European Commission has approved a €1 billion Cypriot scheme to support enterprises and self-employed individuals in the context of the (...)

Procedures

The UK Competition Authority proposes changes to the guidance on settlements in antitrust investigations
Ashurst (London)
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Ashurst (London)
On 31 August 2021, the CMA launched a public consultation on the settlement chapter of its ’Guidance on the CMA’s investigation procedures in Competition Act 1998 cases’ (the "Guidance"). The amendments would require that, as a condition of settlement, businesses under investigation will not (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal certifies a well-publicized class action litigation against a financial services company (Merricks / Mastercard)
Shearman & Sterling (London)
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Shearman & Sterling (London)
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Shearman & Sterling (Brussels)
The U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) last week certified the well-publicized Mastercard class action litigation. In our previous article (See Chris Collins, Elvira Aliende Rodriguez, Jonathan Swil, Ozlem Fidanboylu, The UK Supreme Court gives guidance on collective proceedings in (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal grants its first collective proceedings order in a class action (Merricks / Mastercard)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (London)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (London)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (London)
After protracted challenges to class certification status, in Merricks v Mastercard the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) granted its first collective proceedings order (CPO). The claim remains huge, comprising 46.2 million consumers, but Mastercard successfully persuaded the CAT to narrow (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal approves the first application for a collective proceedings order under the competition class action regime (Merricks / Mastercard)
Herbert Smith Freehills (London)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (London)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (London)
On 18 August 2021 the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) approved the first application for a collective proceedings order (CPO) under the UK’s competition class action regime introduced in 2015, in Walter Hugh Merricks CBE v Mastercard Incorporated and Others. The application was initially (...)

Regulatory

The Mexican Competition Authority publishes the final version of its study of competition in the public service of rail freight transport concluding that rail transport requires regulatory changes to increase the country’s competitiveness
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
Rail transport requires regulatory changes to increase the country’s competitiveness: COFECE* There is low intensity of competition in the railway system: only in 35% of the routes two or more concessionaires participate; in addition, in barely 6% of the municipalities with railroads have two (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority publishes emergency regulatory provisions for processing and handling complaints in matters about the advertisement industry
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
COFECE publishes the Emergency Regulatory Provisions for processing and handling complaints in matters of the Advertising Law* In view of the imminent entry into force of said law, this September 1, and with the aim to provide legal certainty in the procedures to be carried out in this regard, (...)

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