The Competition Authority has launched a consultation on proposed changes to a number of exemptions. These take the form of several Declarations and a Notice which are due to expire shortly. Declarations provide a “safe harbour” from the prohibition in Irish competition law on restrictive agreements, subject to compliance with the conditions of the relevant Declaration.
The Authority is seeking comments on its proposals to do the following:
- Amend the Vertical Agreements Declaration to take account of changes introduced to the recently amended EU Block Exemption Regulation – please click here for more. This Declaration (which is due to expire on 30 November 2010) relates to certain agreements between parties at different levels of the supply chain (such as suppliers and re-sellers). The Authority has published a draft amended Vertical Agreements Declaration for consultation. One of the key changes is the proposed introduction of a buyer market share threshold of 30% (in addition to a supplier market share threshold of 30%).
- Allow the Vertical Agreements Notice to lapse without renewal. This Notice (which is due to expire on 30 November 2010) states when certain vertical agreements fall outside the application of the Irish competition rules altogether. The Authority is proposing that parties, in future, consult the EU’s Vertical Guidelines for advice on whether an agreement is likely to fall outside the competition rules.
- Allow the Motor Fuels Category Declaration (which is due to expire on 30 November 2010) to lapse without renewal. This Declaration relates to certain types of exclusive purchasing agreements for the purchase of petrol and diesel. The Authority is proposing that such agreements will, in future, be assessed under the general Vertical Agreements Declaration.
- Make no change to the Cylinder LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Declaration, which exempts certain exclusive purchasing agreements where a reseller agrees with a supplier to sell a particular brand of cylinder LPG. This Declaration is not due to expire until 14 April 2015 but is eligible for review this year.
- Publish a new Declaration relating to bulk LPG contracts entered into by commercial customers. The Authority has published a draft Declaration which will apply only to agreements in which exclusivity periods are of no longer than 2 years and which contain arrangements for the transfer of tanks between suppliers.
Submissions should be sent to the Authority no later than 5pm on 6 August 2010. Submissions will be published on the Authority’s website and so any confidential or commercially sensitive information should be clearly marked as such. To view the Authority’s consultation paper and draft Declarations, please click here.
For further information please contact Cormac Little or Claire Waterson who will be happy to answer any further queries you may have.