Unfair purchasing practices and the Groceries Code of Conduct: the Tesco investigation

February 1, 2016

By Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui (University of Bergen). On 26 January 2016 the Groceries Code Adjudicator made public its investigation into Tesco plc concerning the possible breaches of the UK Groceries Code of Conduct. After an almost yearlong investigation the Adjudicator determined that Tesco had engaged in unfair purchasing practices prohibited by the Groceries Code of Conduct (“the Code”) by delaying payments that were due to its suppliers. Although the Adjudicator did not impose any financial fine on Tesco, it did issue five recommendations to be followed by the supermarket retail chain in order to prevent payment delays in the future. This blog discusses the Tesco case and its implications for future investigations. Read the rest of this entry »


The European Commission’s Battle Over Pay-TV Services: Can Segmenting the EU Market Be Justified?

July 24, 2015

(by Andreas Stephan) Yesterday the European Commission issued a Statement of Objections to Sky UK and six major US film studios, taking the preliminary view that restrictions put in place to prevent consumers located elsewhere in the EU from subscribing to pay TV services amount to a breach of competition law. The question is whether these entertainment companies can respond with a real justification for dividing the market for European Pay TV services along national lines. Read the rest of this entry »


Are the European Competition Authorities making a less anticompetitive market more anticompetitive? The Booking.com saga

July 8, 2015

(by Pinar Akman) There are at least seven national competition authorities in the EU alone which have recently dealt with or are currently dealing with most-favoured-customer (MFC) clauses adopted by online platforms such as Booking.com, Expedia, iBookstore, Amazon, etc. One of the most recent developments has been the acceptance of commitments offered by Booking.com to the French, Swedish and Italian competition authorities. The acceptance of the said commitments might represent at best an ineffectual solution to any problem existing on the relevant market. In the worst case scenario, the commitments may have pushed the industry from a potentially less-anticompetitive equilibrium to a potentially more-anticompetitive equilibrium. Read the rest of this entry »


What could repeal of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 mean for the application of competition law and the English NHS?

May 5, 2015

(By Mary Guy) In view of the significant opposition to the competition provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA 2012), it is unsurprising that several parties are explicitly proposing repeal in their 2015 UK election manifestos. Repeal of the HSCA 2012 appears to offer a neat shorthand for dis-applying competition law with regard to the English NHS. But how do the competition provisions of the HSCA 2012 relate to the application of competition law, and what would repealing them actually achieve? This blog post explores these two questions by specific reference to s.72 HSCA 2012, so “competition law” is defined as the anticompetitive agreements and abuse of dominance provisions.[1] Read the rest of this entry »


The EU Commission Decision against Servier – a New Dimension to European Pharmaceutical Antitrust?

July 11, 2014

(by Sven Gallasch) On 9 July 2014 the European Commission announced its decision to impose a fine of €427.7 million on French drug maker Servier and five generic companies in relation to so-called ‘pay for delay’ settlements concerning Servier’s bestselling blood pressure drug perindopril. The case differs from the Commission’s earlier decisions against Lundbeck and Johnson & Johnson in a number of rather notable aspects, which will be addressed in this blog post. Read the rest of this entry »


Does Every Little Supermarket Price Guarantee Help?

November 22, 2013

(by Morten Hviid) Last week, Asda’s marketing chief was reported as saying: “It is strange to me that our competitors are touting how much they match prices and are working towards parity. I find it almost anti-competitive that large competitors are talking about and proud to be matching each other’s prices. We are the only ones standing up and saying we’ll be 10 per cent cheaper” (Marketing Week, 15 November).  I have previously pointed out the potential anti-competitive effects of price guarantees, so it is unsurprising that I agree with him on the first point.  I will spell out one overlooked implication of the guarantee offered by Sainsbury’s and partially copied by Tesco below.  However, he is a bit too quick to absolve Asda’s price guarantee from potential anti-competitive blame. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Milk Powder Case: How Should We Interpret a Price Cut on the Announcement of an Antitrust Investigation?

July 16, 2013

(by Andreas Stephan) Earlier this month, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced an investigation into foreign manufacturers of infant milk formula. The very next day, two of the firms in question did something that would be unthinkable in Europe or the US – they announced they would lower their prices and other firms have since followed. Is this the behaviour of remorseful cartelists?  Or is antitrust being used by the Chinese government in the pursuit of non-competition goals?   Read the rest of this entry »


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