Competition law applies horizontally in all sectors, in addition to sector-specific regulation. Antitrust and merger control cases abound in the telecoms and media sectors, with significant cases also occurring in the postal sector. In addition, the rise of the data economy is challenging traditional approaches to assess market power.

Cullen International’s cross-sectoral Competition Law service tracks and analyses all of these developments, allowing you to prepare for the business risks and commercial opportunities presented by antitrust and merger control rules. Our English language database of unbiased national and EU case summaries is organised around ten categories of cases: eight covering different forms of abuse of dominance, plus those covering restrictive agreements and mergers.

Case 1: Favouring as abuse of dominance

This case is from the UK looks at alleged abusive favouring. Favouring one’s own services is a novel type of abuse of dominance only recently prohibited by the European Commission in the Google Shopping case. However, one year even before the Commission imposed the highest antitrust fine ever on Google, a UK High Court judge ruled in a similar case. Case law in this area may still evolve, as the EU Courts in Luxembourg have not yet been involved to set a clear precedent.

Case 2: Antitrust boundaries for network co-investment

This pending Italian case will provide an intriguing benchmark of the conditions that competition authorities are likely to require to ensure that such cooperation agreements do not restrict competition in breach of article 101 TFEU.

Case 3: Predatory pricing in a related competitive market

In this case the Cypriot competition authority considered that telecoms incumbent CYTA relied on its dominance in the DSL broadband access market to pre-empt the neighbouring, competitive, pay TV market with predatory prices (leveraging).

Case 4: Abuse of exclusive broadcasting rights

Our fourth highlighted case  offers an illustrative example of how a vertically integrated pay TV distributor, in this case Swisscom, may abuse its exclusive broadcasting rights by discriminating among competing pay TV distributors.

Case 5: Using competition law to negotiate prices

Vodafone claims that duct access fees negotiated with Telekom Deutschland more than ten years ago are excessive, compared with Telekom’s current regulated fees and fees in other EU countries. Lower courts initially considered that commercially negotiated fees cannot be abusive, but a higher court recalled that no such argument can shield a potential abuse from the application of competition rules. The case is still pending.

Case 6: Margin squeeze and NCA dilemma of cost data

The Hungarian competition authority found that postal incumbent Magyar Posta had not abused its dominance in the market for mailbox rental services by squeezing its competitors’ margins in the downstream market for mailbox-related services. The NCA had to base its assessment on market conditions, the characteristics of the behaviour and its potential exclusionary effects.

Case 7: Temporary takeover of a failing firm

In our seventh case, the Croatian competition authority gave a conditional approval to the acquisition by incumbent Hrvatski Telekom of Optima, a competing fixed operator on the brink of bankruptcy (a failing firm). Exceptionally, the concentration was only authorised for a four-year period, later prolonged to seven years.

Case 8: Rebates granted by dominant firms

In this case, an appeal court annulled the decision of the Luxembourg competition authority, fining incumbent operator EPT €2.52m for anticompetitive rebates, because the authority had not made a proper assessment of their potential anticompetitive effect. The appeal court made an interesting analysis of how to apply the European Commission’s 2009 guidance on abuse of dominance to bundled (or multi-product) rebates.

Case 9: Anticompetitive bundling

In this case, the Austrian competition authority found that the incumbent operator abused its dominant position by changing its fixed telephony tariff structure to drive customers towards its inexpensive bundles of line rental and calls. The case also evidences the well-established principle that decisions taken by telecoms authorities do not shield operators from the application of competition law.

Case 10: Refusal to supply

In this case, the Spanish postal incumbent refused without any objective justification to deliver administrative notifications injected into its network by alternative postal operators, effectively preventing them from winning contracts from public administrations.

To get your access to the 10 Competition Law case summaries on our client portal, simply fill in the form below.

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