Antitrust Trade & Regulation

Written by Lisa Navarro

In September 2013, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT“) issued statements of objection (“SO“) in two separate resale price maintenance cases. The first relates to the sale of sports bras, and the second to mobility scooters. Distinct products, sold in different ways, but both have allegedly been the subject of arrangements between suppliers and retailers aimed at artificially managing the prices that consumers pay.

The investigation into price fixing for sports bras was launched in April 2012. It focused on the conduct of DB Apparel UK Limited (“DBA“) with regard to its Shock Absorber range of sports bras. Between 2009 and 2011, DBA allegedly entered into nine agreements with three major department store chains covering nationwide sales of multiple products within the Shock Absorber range. The agreements contain provisions which set a fixed or minimum resale price for the products, thereby resulting in prices being higher than they might otherwise have been.

The OFT’s decision to issue an SO to Pride Mobility Products Limited (“Pride“) and a number of the retailers that sell its mobility scooters follows a market study on the mobility aids sector which concluded in 2011. Pride and its retailers are accused of being party to arrangements which prevented the retailers from advertising online prices at levels below Pride’s recommended retail price.
Continue Reading

Written by Luke Dixon

Recent news on both sides of the Atlantic has included considerable commentary on the issues of data privacy and international data flows. With an important vote on the issue due to take place in the EU Parliament next month, now seems like a good time to bring readers up to date with progress on the proposed draft General Data Protection Regulation (the “Regulation”). This legislation (once adopted by the EU) will provide the superstructure to its approach to the challenges of data privacy in the 21st Century.

The European Commission published its reform proposals for EU data protection law in January 2012. These reforms are intended to replace the current Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (the “Data Protection Directive” or the “Directive”).

The reforms are chiefly embodied in a draft Regulation which is currently making its way through the EU’s legislative process (albeit not at a breakneck pace). The Regulation is aimed at harmonizing the data protection procedures and enforcement across the whole EU. This should provide a “one-stop shop” for non-EU companies who want to understand their compliance obligations. Under the current Directive, the EU Member States have more scope for interpretation in their national laws, and their implementation of EU law has been more uneven. This note highlights some of the key changes to the present regime that will be introduced if the draft Regulation is adopted in its current form.
Continue Reading

Written by Simon Harms | Stephen C. Tupper

As many businesses will be acutely aware, the preparation of merger control notifications to the European Commission (the “Commission“) under the EU Merger Regulation (the “EUMR“) in respect of M&A transactions requires a considerable amount of effort by in-house teams and external legal and economic advisers and results in significant costs in terms of professional fees and management time.

As detailed below, the Commission is currently proposing small but significant changes to its notification rules to ensure that these financial and administrative burdens are only imposed when absolutely necessary.

By way of background, the EUMR uses monetary turnover thresholds to determine whether a notification must be made in respect of an M&A transaction. While this provides parties with a great deal of certainty regarding the need to make a filing, it also means that the rules catch transactions which could not, by any stretch of the imagination, have a real impact on competition (e.g. acquisitions by parties which have no, or minimal, overlapping operations with their targets).
Continue Reading