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Both the British and German competition authorities have stated that Amazon no longer requires its traders to offer their products on Amazon for the lowest prices. Both competition authorities are currently investigating whether requiring a best price guarantee, also referred to as price parity, is in violation of competition rules.
The German competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, is now looking into whether the measures announced by Amazon are enough in terms of form, content and scope to stop its investigation against Amazon. This requires among other things that Amazon definitively abandon price parity and that recidivism can be excluded.
Office of Fair Trading
Like the Bundeskartellamt, the British competition authority, the Office of Fair Trading, has not yet decided whether Amazon violated competition rules by requiring price parity. In general the Office of Fair Trading believes that price parity can prevent access to the market for online sales. Price parity furthermore has a direct impact on the prices, which can result in higher prices for the consumer. In the light of Amazon’s decision to abandon price parity, the Office of Fair Trading is considering closing its investigation against Amazon.
It is notable that in the press release, the Office of Fair Trading calls on online portals which still require price parity to carefully reconsider their policy. Businesses that are of the opinion that they are being prevented from setting their own selling prices are also encouraged to contact the Office of Fair Trading.
With its promise, Amazon is following suit from the booking sites and a hotel group which a few months ago made agreements with the Office of Fair Trading on the online sale of hotel rooms. It should be pointed out here that Amazon’s promise goes further than that given by the booking sites and the hotel group. Amazon will no longer be applying price parity at all, while the booking sites and hotel group only enable discounts for a certain group of consumers.
Furthermore, the current response from the Office of Fair Trading in particular shows that those conducting commerce via online portals should generally keep in mind that they are being watched by the competition authorities. The Bundeskartellamt responded in July in a similar manner. Although the British and German competition authorities have not yet taken a final decision, both regulators seem to be of the opinion that the best price guarantee is in violation of the prohibition of cartels. Amazon will also have realised this, otherwise it would never have promised to abandon its price parity policy. Operators of online portals have been warned therefore.
A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge (ALJ) recently found that an expletive-ridden Facebook conversation between two employees of a nonprofit youth center were so egregious as to take the comments outside the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and warranted dismissal.
China is one of the thirty-three countries worldwide explicitly regulating franchising. Over the years, franchising has become increasingly popular and widely used by international brands in an attempt to reach Chinese consumers.
On November 18, 2013, the U.S. Senate, by voice vote, passed the Drug Quality and Security Act ( the “Act”) (H.R. 3204), marking the culmination of a nearly decade-long effort by many in the drug and pharmacy industry to clarify and strengthen both the regulatory framework for compounding pharmacies and the security of the pharmaceutical supply chain. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure in September and President Obama is expected to sign the Act into law shortly.
The European Union promoted the concept of e-money alongside massive strides in technology to bolster the status of e-commerce in Europe. Malta was one of the first EU Member States to allow standalone Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) by removing the unnecessary rigidity surrounding this market.
An important European development concerning Internet copyright infringement was rendered by judgment dated 3 October 2013 and issued following procedure C-170/12, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) stated that under Article 5, paragraph 3 of the EC Regulation No. 44/2001 on the jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.
Minister Stef Blok (Housing and the Central Government Sector) plans to introduce a new points system for valuing housing in the context of determining the maximum rent.
The Italian Authority for the Supervision of Public Contracts for works, services and supplies (AVCP) has initiated a public consultation process (by issuing the so-called “Consultation Document”) to elicit from interested parties review and comment of the Determinations of January 14, 2009 no. 1 (Project Finance Guidelines after the entering into force of the third decree amending the Code of Public Works) and of March 11, 2010, no. 2 (Issues relating to the rules governing the performance of public works concession contracts) (the “Determinations”).
Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have existed since the beginning of the 20th century. Their main objective is to increase the efficiency of the financial markets by producing ratings expressing the creditworthiness of companies with respect to loans and credits.
Wyoming was first in the nation with requiring oilfield service companies to submit the ingredients in fracking fluids to a governmental agency – the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission).
Posted by: Susanne Hermsen: German Desk
Dirkzwager and Loyens & Loeff have joined forces to write two extensive memos on directors’ liability in Germany and withholding taxes / social security for directors resident in the Netherlands and working for companies based in Germany.