In a ruling on 27 October 2016, the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of 18 December 2016 in which the French Competition Authority sentenced 13 companies to a €951 million fine for their participation in two unlawful agreements in the sector of cleaning and hygiene products.

These two unlawful agreements materialized through the implementation of various circles between manufacturers called “Team” or “Friends” in which sales directors or sales managers exchanged information on their pricing policy with large-scale distributors, and more specifically on future prices and extremely recent data concerning, for example, promotional operations and the way negotiations unfolded.

The Court of Appeal validates the Authority’s approach that sufficiently proved the anticompetitive nature of these exchanges which involved elements of price formation, without it being necessary to assess the harmfulness of these exchanges meeting after meeting. The Court of Appeal further recalls that an information exchange system between competitors can constitute a violation of competition rules even when the market concerned is not a highly concentrated oligopolistic market; the only general principle is that supply must not be fragmented.