By Marcel Meinhardt and Frank Bremer, Lenz & Staehelin, Switzerland
On November 18, 2013, the Swiss Competition Commission (ComCo) closed proceedings without further action against a Swiss individual with a formerly controlling stake in companies investigated for a possible abuse of a dominant position under the Swiss Cartel Act (CartA).
The decision clarifies the applicability of Swiss competition law to individual personal shareholders in an undertaking. According to the ComCo, if an individual exercises control over a company and, in addition, is actively involved in its management, this, on its own, does not entail qualification as an undertaking within the meaning of the CartA. For the [...]
The proceedings brought by the European Commission against Google are nearing a – provisional – end with the prospect of a decision making binding on Google a revised set of commitments (see here for the Commission statement and here for the full text of the proposed commitments). Independently of their merits in addressing the Commission’s concerns, the Google commitments testify of a more general transformation in EU antitrust enforcement prompted by the multi-faceted “modernization” process associated with the entry into force of Regulation 1/2003, close to 10 years ago. This is first of all because commitments constitute a distinctive feature of “procedural modernization” [...]
On February 11, 2014, the Canadian government included in its federal budget a proposed amendment to the Competition Act to prohibit unjustified price discrimination to reduce the gap between consumer prices in Canada and the United States. The Minister of Finance made clear that the Commissioner of Competition, the head of Canada’s Competition Bureau, would have the power to enforce the new rules. More details are to be provided in the coming months.
If enacted, this amendment could introduce considerable uncertainty and risk for multinational suppliers or retailers that sell products in Canada. For example, such firms may now be required to ensure that any difference in the prices paid by [...]
On February 3, 2014, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Competition Tribunal’s 2013 decision dismissing the Commissioner of Competition’s abuse of dominance allegations against the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and referred the case back to the Tribunal. In so doing, the Court held that the Competition Act’s abuse of dominance provisions could potentially apply to a person that controls a market even if that person does not compete in that market. While the long-term effects of the decision remain to be determined, trade associations and companies that may be considered to control a market in which they do not compete should carefully consider the impact of the decision on th [...]
In our annual forecast of the year ahead for Canadian competition and foreign investment review law, the Davies Competition Law and Foreign Investment Group outlines the “Top 10″ key issues and trends to watch for this year.
1. A Green Light for Class Actions by Indirect Purchasers
The Supreme Court of Canada issued an important trilogy of decisions in October 2013 on competition class actions. Resolving a dispute between certain provincial courts of appeal, the Court held that indirect purchasers are entitled to assert claims for damages and restitution in class actions relying upon alleged competition law offences. (Indirect purchasers are entities that are one or more steps removed from d [...]
In a move that signals that UK criminal cartel enforcement is set to increase, Peter Nigel Snee appeared on 27 January 2014 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to face charges under the UK’s criminal cartel offence. Mr Snee has been charged under section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002 with “dishonestly agreeing with others to divide customers, fix prices and rig bids between 2004 and 2012 in respect of the supply in the UK of galvanised steel tanks for water storage“. His next court appearance will be at Southwark Crown Court on 4 February 2014 for a preliminary hearing.
In addition to the charges against Mr Snee, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) is also conducting a related civil inves [...]