Do Plans for a European Super League Breach Competition Law?

April 20, 2021

(by Andreas Stephan) The world of European football was thrown into controversy this week by the announcement that 12 leading clubs have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL). Unlike the Champions League, the ESL will consist of a permanent membership, with only 5 of its 20 slots open to qualification from other teams. The move has widely been condemned by sports fans and political leaders, and UEFA have said, ‘We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit it cannot be any other way.’ This blog takes a brief look at the possible competition law implications of the Super League.

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Merricks judgement marks a turning point for UK opt-out collective actions

January 20, 2021

(by Sebastian Peyer) In December 2020 the UK Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in Merricks v MasterCard.[1] This is the first decision of the UK’s highest court on the relatively new opt-out collective action procedure introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The Court did not disappoint in confirming the claimant-friendly approach to class actions taken by the Court of Appeal. The latter had previously overturned the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s (CAT) decision refusing certification of the class. This decision is likely to mark a turning point for the collective action process in the UK. It will hopefully encourage more opt-out claims and overcome the disappointing track record of zero claims that have received certification so far.

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An indirect cost of record public debt: crowding out market competition?

October 27, 2020

[by Peter Ormosi] When Rishi Sunak announced the fourth Covid related support package in October 2020, UK government debt had already been at the unprecedented level of £2 trillion, exceeding 100% of the country’s GDP for the first time since the 1960s. But whereas the main worry on Sunak’s mind right now must be the likely interest rates on the national debt, the related risks, and to keep finances flowing, one should not dismiss the importance of how high government debt is likely to affect the real economy. This short blog considers some little-discussed side-effects that could have a long-term impact on competition. Read the rest of this entry »

Are vertical restrictions on the use of trademarks in online search advertising always anticompetitive? The European Commission’s Guess decision

May 13, 2020

(by Elias Deutscher)[1] Can the owner of a well-known brand lawfully prevent its independent retailers from using its trademarks and brands to advertise their products on Google? This question has major implications, in particular, for small- and medium-size retailers who largely benefit from the reduced costs of online search advertising and the new sales channels offered by online distribution. For quite some time, issues surrounding the use of trademarks as keywords in paid online search advertising have stirred considerable controversy amongst trademark and IP lawyers. Recently, this question also came into the focus of competition law enforcers. In the Case AT. 40428 Guess,[2] the European Commission assessed for the first time the legality under European Union (‘EU’) competition law of a vertical agreement whereby a trademark proprietor restricted the ability of its licensed distributors to use or bid for its brand names and trademarks as keywords in Google AdWords. Read the rest of this entry »

Leasehold Rip-Offs: does the CMA reach the parts that other agencies cannot?

April 1, 2020

[by Tola Amodu] Many years ago, there was an advertisement on TV suggesting that a certain alcoholic beverage – those showing their age will know which one – “refreshed the parts other beers cannot reach”. In a similar vein, it is just possible that the Competition and Markets Authority will manage to do something similar in the case of the sale of leasehold houses. The recent CMA report probing the activities of house builders and developers has focused on the unfair treatment of homeowners and the possible misleading of prospective buyers. Will the CMA be more effective than specific legislation for redressing the problem? Read the rest of this entry »