All Articles

New Zealand: Commerce Act amendments threaten franchise agreements

Premium - 01 August 1999

Concerns have been raised that the proposed extension of per se prohibitions in the Commerce Act Amendment Bill may have a negative impact on certain procompetitive and efficiencyenhancing business arrangements. In particular, the changes could effect franchise arrangements and could deter cost-saving cooperation between competitors.

Poland: Antimonopoly Court takes a liberal approach to relevant market definition

Premium - 01 August 1999

In a recent judgment, the Antimonopoly Court disagreed once again with the President of the Office of the Protection of Competition on the definition of a relevant market.

Spain: Amendments to Spanish competition law too cautious

Premium - 01 August 1999

This year is the 10th anniversary of Spain’s Competition Law. The proposed reforms are an important step in the right direction, but perhaps not far-reaching enough. The institutional changes which had been considered in the early stages of the legislative process have not been reflected in the Draft Bill. These changes would have given more independence to the Spanish competition authorities. It also remains to be seen whether the Spanish competition authorities will be given the required resources and funds to implement the new law properly.

Sweden: New de minimis notice from the Competition Authority

Premium - 01 August 1999

The new notice on agreements of minor importance broadly follows the European Commission’s de minimis notice.

Switzerland: ‘Essential facilities’ doctrine lurks in Swiss Antitrust Law

Premium - 01 August 1999

The Swiss Antitrust Commission has referred to the ‘essential facilities’ doctrine in two ongoing investigations, one in the electricity market and one (more recently) in the telecommunications industry. The latter investigation has been triggered by an interim measure obliging the largest Swiss cable network provider to grant access to a Swiss pay-TV broadcaster to enable it to switch from analog to digital TV technology.

United Kingdom: Competition Commission and OFT consult on transparency

Premium - 01 August 1999

Greater transparency in competition authority proceedings impacts in a number of ways. As the OFT suggests, revealing the rationale underlying decisions may allow parties greater opportunities for successful appeal against adverse decisions. However, transparency at early stages of inquiries may well have potentially damaging and unjustifiable effects on the interested parties. Publication of extensive provisional issues could result in unnecessary concern and distortion in the relevant markets because of inaccurate or misleading reporting or misinterpretation of the provisional nature of the issues. Similarly, publication of hypothetical remedies before conclusions have been drawn may lead to market reaction and expectations that are neither rational nor justified. The practical benefits of an open hearing are yet to be seen. Ultimately, it is important that the implementation of policy objectives for transparency are considered carefully alongside the legitimate concerns of interested parties so that a balance is effectively maintained.

United States: Supreme Court’s opinion in horizontal restraints case muddies the waters

Premium - 01 August 1999

The Supreme Court’s CDA opinion generated immediate controversy in the antitrust bar, not least because of the fact that the vigorous dissent in the case was authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the Court’s recognized antitrust scholars. A former general counsel of the FTC commented on this aspect of the case as follows: 'It is an unusually disappointing opinion. Simply as a matter of judicial craftsmanship, it is not of the quality for which we look to the Court. Any objective observer would have to conclude that Justice Breyer’s opinion was far and away the better of the two, whether measured in terms of analytical power, understanding of antitrust, or quality of writing.'

Franchising: Federal Trade Commission Act may not apply extraterritorially

Premium - 01 August 1999

This decision has ominous implications for the FTC and its jurisdiction to enforce the entire FTC Act, not just the FTC Franchising Rule. For this reason, and because of the Court’s acknowledgement that its Nieman decision conflicts with an earlier 7th Circuit decision (which had authorised extraterritorial exercise of the FTC’s jurisdiction), we may not have heard the last of this case or the issue of the FTC Act’s extraterritorial reach.

Supermarket enquiry

Premium - 01 July 1999

The UK Competition Commission has launched a 12-month enquiry into claims of profiteering by the UK’s biggest supermarket groups.

BP Amoco/Arco

Premium - 01 July 1999

The newly merged oil giant BP Amoco is to expand further with the acquisition of Atlantic Richfield Co (Arco) in a stock deal valued at US$26.8 billion.