On February 27, 2024, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its roadmap for 2024-2025 as every year,[1] outlining its enforcement priorities for the year ahead.  The FCA emphasized the need to take action in the same key areas of interest as in 2023[2]: (i) the digital economy, (ii) sustainability and the ecological transition, and (iii) the protection of purchasing power. 

In a 350-page decision dated  December 29, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) sanctioned four professional associations and eleven undertakings, in their capacity as members of these associations, for having implemented a collective strategy to prevent market players from competing on the presence or absence of Bisphenol A (“BPA”) in food containers (the “Decision”). [1] The total fine amounts to €19,543,400.

On December 21, 2023, the Paris Court of Appeal (the “Court”) upheld the French Competition Authority’s (“FCA”) decision to jointly and severally fine Mayotte Channel Gateway (“MCG”) as the author of the infringement, and Société Nel Import Export (“SNIE”) as its parent company, for obstructing the investigation by willfully and repeatedly failing to respond to an information request (the “Decision”).[1]

On December 20, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Sony EUR 13.5 million for allegations of abuse of dominant position in the supply of video game controllers for its PlayStation 4 (“PS4”) console between November 2015 and April 2020.[1]

On December 20, 2023, the French Cour de cassation ruled that the French Competition Authority’s (“FCA”) Rapporteur Général is required to duly justify its decision to disclose business secrets.[1] Two days later, the Conseil d’État (the French administrative supreme court) requested a preliminary ruling from the Tribunal des Conflits in the same case to clarify whether an action seeking to enforce the right to the protection of business secrets should be heard by a civil or administrative court.[2]

On December 19, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Rolex for having prevented its authorized retailers from selling its products online for over ten years (the “Decision”).[1]  The FCA considered that such a prohibition constituted a vertical agreement restricting competition, rejecting Rolex’s argument that it was necessary to prevent counterfeiting and parallel trade.  The FCA imposed a fine of  €91 million, which is the highest fine imposed to date by the FCA in relation to a prohibition of online sales.  The FCA also investigated whether Rolex had engaged in resale price maintenance between 2011 and 2022, but ultimately rejected this prong of the complainants’ claim for lack of evidence.

On December 15, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its Revised Leniency Guidelines, which repealed and replaced the 2015 guidelines.[1]  The Revised Leniency Guidelines were adopted as part of the implementation of the “DDADUE” law,[2] the ECN+ directive,[3] and the “Damages” directive.[4]  They aim to provide greater legal certainty for leniency applicants and modernize the leniency application procedure.

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]

On October 18, 2023, the French Cour de cassation upheld the Paris Court of Appeals’ ruling finding that the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) had rightly calculated the amount of the fine imposed on L’Oréal in 2014 for its alleged involvement in a cartel in the personal care products industry.[1] The French Cour de cassation confirmed that the sales of a subsidiary that did not itself participate in the infringement can be included in the calculation of the fine if these sales have been affected by the infringement sanctioned.

On October 12, 2023, the French Competition Authority (the “FCA”) published its Opinion on meal vouchers in response to the Government’s referral under Article L. 462-1 of the French Commercial Code.[1]  The FCA considered that the pricing cap envisaged by the government does not constitute the most appropriate response to market failures, i.e., the existence of entry barriers for potential new market entrants and the monopoly held by the four incumbent issuers. Therefore, the FCA issued five recommendations to address such failures.