On December 15, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its Revised Leniency Guidelines, which repealed and replaced the 2015 guidelines.[1]  The Revised Leniency Guidelines were adopted as part of the implementation of the “DDADUE” law,[2] the ECN+ directive,[3]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 24 November 2023, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a Call for Input on the potential competition impacts arising from the data asymmetry between Big Tech firms and firms in financial services. The Call for Input follows the FCA’s October 2022 Discussion Paper regarding the potential competition impacts of Big Tech entry and expansion in retail financial services, and its July 2023 Feedback Statement summarising the responses to the Discussion Paper. [1]

On 16 November 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued a warning to Wowcher, calling on the e-commerce site to change its online sales practices and in particular its “urgency claims” that risk misleading consumers.  Wowcher has an opportunity to respond and offer undertakings to change its practices and avoid potential court action.

On 20 November 2023, the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill (DMCC) cleared the report stage and an expedited third reading in the House of Commons, at which a series of significant amendments were passed. 

On November 9, 2023, the European Court of Justice dismissed, on most grounds, [1] Altice’s appeal against the General Court’s judgment[2] upholding the European Commission’s decision, in 2018,[3] to fine Altice €124.5 million for gun-jumping violations in connection with its acquisition of PT Portugal.  The Court of Justice confirmed that Altice breached the EU Merger Regulation’s notification and standstill obligations by acquiring and exercising decisive influence over PT Portugal prior to obtaining Commission approval.  The Commission had fined Altice €62.25 million for each of the two infringements.  The Court of Justice reduced one of the fines by about €10 million on account of the Commission’s failure to properly state reasons, but the judgment supports the trend toward strict enforcement of EU rules against early implementation of M&A transactions.[4]

On November 8, 2023, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) held the G7 Joint Competition Enforcers and Policy Makers Summit (the “Summit”) in Tokyo.  The focus of the Summit was for the G7 competition authorities and policymakers (the “Authorities”) to discuss effective approaches to enforcing and promoting competition in digital markets.  At the Summit, the Authorities adopted the “Digital Competition Communiqué[1] (the “Communiqué”) and updated the “Compendium of approaches to improving competition in digital markets”[2] (the “Compendium”). 

On October 25, 2023, the General Court delivered its judgment in Bulgarian Energy Holding and Others v. Commission.[1]  In a shift in the case law that signals an increased focus on effects in Article 102 cases, the General Court concluded that the Commission failed to establish that the examined conduct constituted a refusal to supply, let alone an abuse of dominance by Bulgarian Energy Holding, Bulgartransgaz, and Bulgargaz (together, “the BEH Group”).  The judgment clarifies the evidentiary standard required to establish causality between purportedly abusive practices and their resulting potential anticompetitive effects.  It also concludes that the Commission infringed the BEH Group’s rights of defense during the administrative procedure.  The judgment signals the General Court’s willingness to scrutinize technical factual assessments that are often heavily contested by companies in competition law investigations.

On October 12, 2023, the notification obligations under the EU Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) took effect.  Businesses must notify all M&A deals (if signed on or after July 12 and not yet implemented by October 12) and public procurement tenders (for offers submitted on or after October 12) meeting the relevant thresholds.