Antitrust enforcement may be becoming an increasingly politicized issue, however, most policies are fairly consistent from administration to administration and, consequently, from one Attorney General to the next. Replacing Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, William P. Barr was recently appointed by the Senate to serve as Attorney General. Having previously served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, and given that during his tenure, the Department of Justice (DOJ) implemented several important antitrust policy initiatives, there are a few particular areas of enforcement in which there are opportunities for Barr to guide antitrust policy. Given his prior stint as Attorney General and his professional experiences since, we outline below the potential impact on antitrust enforcement and policies that Barr may introduce as Attorney General. Members of our antitrust team explain what that means for antitrust practice in our client alert.
On February 15, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the annual threshold adjustments for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (15 U.S.C. § 18a) (HSR). The new thresholds have increased the dollar amount required to trigger HSR notification for both the size-of-transaction test and the size-of-person test. Members of our Antitrust & Competition Team describe the implications in our recent alert.
By way of an EU regulation adopted by the Council and European Parliament, the European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of the European Union reached an agreement on February 14, 2019 to implement new rules designed to ensure a fair, transparent and predictable business environment to both end consumers and entrepreneurs using third party online platforms for their business. An example of this includes hotels that offer rooms through booking platforms or app developers who distribute their software through app stores. In our client alert, our team summarizes the rules under the new regulation.
Recently, the DOJ has shined a spotlight on the potential antitrust risks associated with employers’ use of “no-poach” agreements, in which companies agree not to hire or solicit each other’s employees. Interestingly, in February of this year, the DOJ filed Statements of Interest in several civil antitrust cases brought against franchisors, taking the position that the no-poach agreements at issue in those cases were not per se unlawful and should be analyzed under the more forgiving rule of reason test. This insight into the DOJ’s position on no-poach agreements bears watching and could ultimately provide helpful guidance to franchisors, manufacturers who distribute through independent dealers, and other companies that may wish to use no-poach provisions in their vertical contracts. Our team explains what you need to know in our recent alert.
This year marks four years since significant statutory reforms regenerated the UK’s collective actions arena. Following a rocky start to this new regime, it appears that 2019 may finally bring some clarity to potential claimants navigating the first hurdle of competition class actions: the Collective Proceedings Order application. In this client alert, our London Competition and Commercial Disputes teams discuss four new important cases, which are the first of their kind, and offer insight into what we may expect to see for the rapidly-changing future of collective actions.
On 11 April 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) released the final report on its sector inquiry into comparison websites. The FCO’s report identifies areas of concern in various industries, including energy, telecommunications, insurance, finance and travel, which are particularly relevant for consumers. The findings indicate that in some cases consumers are being misled, that transparency obligations are not fully complied with, and that advertisements are not always identified as such by the relevant website provider. Read our alert for a full analysis of the report.
The EU Commission, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or other sector regulators with competition powers may conduct unannounced onsite inspections of businesses if they suspect a breach of competition law through anti-competitive activity or conduct. These surprise inspections, often dubbed ‘dawn raids’, are employed to gather evidence in relation to suspected cartels. Such raids are often stressful as a company may be heavily fined in relation to its conduct as well as for the conduct of its employees during the inspection.
The purpose of this guidance is to assist companies and their employees with internal plans for dealing with a dawn raid. While this guidance focuses on the EU Commission, the basic principles are also applicable to national competition authorities, such as the CMA.
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This post was also written by Emily Daniels, trainee solicitor.