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United Kingdom: Illegality under English law of contracts in breach of Article 85 EC

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The Court ultimately rejected Gemmell’s argument that the beer tie breached Article 85, so its conclusions in respect of voidness and illegality were strictly obiter. However, there have recently been two High Court judgments which have followed the Court of Appeal’s reasoning, so it appears clear that the statements in Gibbs Mew may be treated as authoritative. Following the introduction of the new UK Competition Act 1998, the construction of which will be guided by English law judgments on corresponding matters of EC law, it would also appear that the courts are likely to take the same attitude towards contracts which breach the Act’s Chapter I prohibition, which mirrors Article 85.

Norway: Mobile operator demands access to network's infrastructure

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By its decision of September 10 1998, the Norwegian PT has taken a bold step towards the liberalisation and opening up to competion of the mobile telephony market. However, there are doubts as to whether the step is perhaps too bold and is illfounded.

European Union: Third parties' right to challenge Commission's decisions

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On the basis of the ECJ case law, it appears that third parties’ right to challenge the Commission’s decisions under Article 173 depends on their involvement in the administrative procedure before the Commission as complainants or by making their views heard during the procedure. This does not appear to be changed by the ECJ Kruidvat judgment. Third parties not sufficiently individually concerned to apply for annulment could possibly apply to intervene in relevant proceedings before the CFI if they can establish an 'interest in the result of the case' (CFI rules of procedure), which must be, however, 'a direct interest in the ruling on the specific act whose annulment is sought' rather than 'only an indirect interest in the result of the case by reason of similarities of their situation and that of one of the parties' (CFI’s order rejecting YSLP’s application).

Australia: ACCC claims Telstra's commercial 'churn' service is anti-competitive

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From July 1 1997, the ACCC assumed the primary role for competition and economic regulation of telecommunications services and has not hesitated to use its new powers. The ACCC set out certain allegations against Telstra Corporation Ltd in relation to its local call transfer process in two competition notices. A competition notice is the method by which the ACCC sets out a contravention of the competition rule, which prohibits a carrier or carriage service provider from engaging in anti-competitive conduct. The ACCC took the view that Telstra had not modified its conduct as described in the competition notices and instituted proceedings against it.

South Africa: Competition Act 1998 heralds new era for merger control

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The new Competition Act 1998, part of which is already in force and the rest of which is expected to come into force in July 1999, will have a profound effect on competition law in South Africa. Based partly on EU competition law, the new Act will prohibit certain practices and abuse of dominance in the market. It also introduces far-reaching provisions for merger control.

Swedish petroleum decision

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The Stockholm District Court has quashed a 1995 decision by the Competition Authority rejecting an application for negative clearance from Svenska Petroleum Institutet, the trade organisation for Swedish oil companies, to set up an information exchange system covering monthly updates on member companies’ sales of various oil products in Sweden.

Spain: Electricity securitisation comes under Commission's scrutiny

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Competition law is affecting more and more sectors of the Spanish economy, including sophisticated capital markets transactions such as securitisations. Industry-specific watchdogs in the telecommunications and electricity sectors are proving themselves to be independent entities, genuinely seeking within their powers to ensure that effective competition is maintained within their industries. Although the Spanish government has given the green light to the securitisation, the transaction may have to be postponed until the European Commission has decided whether to authorise the transaction under the EU state aid rules.

Germany: Metro warned on potential abuse of market position

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The German food industry has been complaining for some time about the growing purchasing power of the large retailers, but the latest reform of Germany’s antitrust law does not address the question of how it can be effectively controlled. However, the Metro case demonstrates the Bundeskartellamt’s determination to take a stand on this issue.

Panama: Guidelines make clearance procedure more transparent

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In January 1999 CLICAC adopted the Guidelines on the Control of Economic Concentrations. The Guidelines set out the methodology CLICAC applies when assessing the compatibility of concentrations with Law 29/96. The economic analysis is the same as that employed before the adoption of the Guidelines.

Deutsche Bank/ Bankers Trust

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Deutsche Bank is to buy Banker’s Trust, the eighth-largest US bank, for US$9.2 billion, creating a global financial services firm with over US$800 billion in assets.