On 12 January 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that the Land Agreements Exclusion and Revocation Order 2004 (Order) is to be repealed with effect from 6 April 2011. Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 contains a prohibition against agreements which have as their object or effect the restriction of competition. The Order excludes from this prohibition agreements that contain restrictions relating to land on the grounds that, in general, they are unlikely to have an adverse effect on competition. However, the Competition Commission’s (CC) report on the grocery retail sector found that exclusive arrangements in that sector (particularly those imposed by the major supermarket chains) may create difficulties for new entrants and create barriers to expansion for existing retailers. The CC therefore recommended that “exclusivity arrangements which restrict grocery retailing and which are entered into by grocery retailers” should be removed from the scope of the Order. The CC also suggested repealing the Order in its entirety. After consulting on the CC’s proposals, BIS announced the Government’s decision to repeal the Order. The Government announced that from 6 April 2011, businesses will have to self-assess land agreements to ensure competition law compliance. The OFT is expected to publish guidance to assist with self-assessment.
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