News

India: Prohibition on export cartels in Indian territory

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The MRTP Commission restrained ANSAC, a US export cartel, from exporting soda ash to India either directly or indirectly. The Commission held that cartels and free markets are essentially antithetical to each other and cannot coexist. While a free market engenders competition, a cartel endangers competition.

Venezuela: Comparative advertising comes under scrutiny

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The decisions are important precedents in unfair competition practices in Venezuela and have provided participants both in the market and in the legal community with clear standards by which to judge what type of activities can be considered unfair.

UK: DTI reveals its view of vertical restraints in the UK

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The draft Order can, if nothing else, be admired for being both short in length and wide in scope. Some definitions may need clarification, however. For example, the meaning of 'marketing of services' is not entirely clear.

Italy: Italian football broadcasting rights under investigation

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The Italian competition authority’s investigation into the Lega Calcio naturally focuses on Article 2 of Italian competition law. However, even if the arrangements between the Lega Calcio and its members (the clubs) are cleared following the investigation, they could presumably still be found to be in breach of Decree 15/1999. It will be interesting to see how competition and media law will apply in parallel.

AT&T/ BT

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The European Commission has cleared the US$11 billion joint venture between BT and AT&T to create the world’s largest carrier of transit services.

Australia: Refusal to supply directories a misuse of market power

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Section 46 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 does not compel a manufacturer or wholesaler to supply goods of services to all who wish to acquire them. The section prohibits a refusal of supply which constitutes a use by a corporation of its substantial degree of market power for a proscribed anticompetitive purpose. In this recent case, a former wholesale distributor of street directories was successful in establishing each of the elements requires under Section 46. The publisher and wholesaler of the directory, in refusing to continue to supply the distributor, was held to have taken advantage of its substantial degree of market power for the purpose of preventing the distributor from engaging in competitive conduct with existing distributors.

New Zealand: Proposed changes to Commerce Act will mean tougher penalties

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The New Zealand Ministry of Commerce has recommended changes to the Commerce Act 1986 designed to increase the Act’s deterrent effect against anticompetitive behaviour by large New Zealand firms. The changes are likely to be in force later this year, and should see tougher penalties and a wider range offences being caught.

Germany: Bundeskartellamt enforces liberalisation of energy markets

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The case is an important precedent and can be regarded as a significant step towards increased competition in the German energy sector. For the first time, the German regulator has applied the new competition rules in the energy sector and actively supported a market entrant pursuing its right to third party network access. It can be expected that Enron’s example will be followed by other energy suppliers seeking to enter the German market and result in the breaking up of existing regional network monopolies.

Netherlands: RAI/Jaarbeurs first prohibition of a concentration

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The Dutch Competition Authority has refused to clear the contemplated merger of RAI and Jaarbeurs, thus making the first negative merger decision in its existence. In its competition analysis, the Authority emphasised the relationship between two relevant markets, in which RAI and Jaarbeurs have large market shares. RAI and Jaarbeurs proposed a number of mainly behavioural undertakings. However, the Authority insisted on structural undertakings from the parties and refused to allow the merger to proceed. The parties have several options for appeal.

Canada: Competition Act amendments come into force

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Most of the Competition Bureau’s proposed amendments to the Competition Act became law in mid-March. The Bureau was also successful in obtaining a record fine for a foreign-directed conspiracy as well as prison sentences for some individuals engaged in deceptive telemarketing.