On December 11, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) imposed a €4 million fine on Mariage Frères SAS and one of its subsidiaries, Mariage Frères International SAS (together, “Mariage Frères”), a French producer of premium teas.[1]  The FCA found that Mariage Frères had been prohibiting distributors from (i) reselling its branded products online and (ii) reselling its branded products to other retailers for over 14 years, two practices prohibited by the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) under both the former and new regimes.[2]

Summary

On September 7, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) imposed fines totaling €31.2 million on five companies active in the nuclear dismantling sector for colluding on tenders organized by the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives, “CEA”) at a nuclear site in Marcoule, in the South of France.[1]

On February 10, 2023, the French Constitutional Council (“Conseil constitutionnel”) considered that the second sentence of Article L. 464-2, I, paragraph 1 of the French Commercial Code, which provides that the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) may accept commitments in the context of antitrust litigation proceedings, but says nothing about its power to refuse them, complies with the French Constitution and, on this occasion, confirmed that companies can lodge appeals again FCA decisions rejecting suggested commitments.[1]

On April 20, 2023, the French Competition Authority (the “FCA”) issued an opinion on three articles of an incoming French law aimed at securing and regulating the digital space (the “French draft legislation”), pending the coming into force of EU-wide rules (the “European Data Act”).[1]  

On December 7, 2022, the French Supreme Court (“Cour de cassation”) upheld the Paris Court of Appeal’s judgment dismissing Concurrence’s damage claim brought against Samsung Electronics France (“Samsung”).[1] Concurrence claimed that Samsung had abruptly terminated their long- standing commercial relationship.

Appointment of a sustainability expert

As of September 1, 2022, Elise Provost was appointed first formal head of the French Competition Authority’s (the “FCA”) sustainable development network.  Since this network is also responsible for flagging sustainability-related cases to the FCA’s General Rapporteur (i.e., the head of the FCA’s investigation unit), Elise Provost was also appointed adviser to the General Rapporteur as of September 1, 2022.

On February 16, 2022, the Cour de cassation confirmed that lack of mutual trust is a valid reason for a supplier to refuse to reappoint a former member of its selective distribution network, upholding an important decision of the Paris Court of Appeals in the automotive industry.[1]