Henar González Durántez, partner of the Madrid competition practice, analyses anti-competitive practices in the context of online sales. After reviewing close to 8,000 contracts, the European Commission found that almost half of online retailers apply restrictions to their contracts that could unduly limit online sales, thus  preventing consumers from benefiting from a broader range of products at lower costs.

Price restrictions are by far the most widespread. The internet makes it easier to control the retail prices that are available to the public, either by using algorithms or price monitoring programmes. Those restrictions may also be geographic, as consumers are often prevented from making cross-border purchases.

Identifying those restrictions has led the European Commission to take immediate action to combat practices that could have an impact on ecommerce and the digital single market in the European Union. It is therefore important for companies to include their online sale and distribution contracts within their compliance programmes and for them to be reviewed to bring them into line with anti-trust legislation and the measures recently adopted to prevent the geographical blocking of consumers within the European Union.

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