On 9 February 2017, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it is investigating yet another case of alleged online resale price maintenance (RPM).
The CMA, in common with many of the other national competition law regulators in the EU, has been very active in investigating restrictions on online sales, including RPM. The CMA fined two other companies for online RPM in May 2016: one in the bathroom fittings sector and one in the commercial refrigeration sector.
In this latest case, the CMA has provisionally found that a lighting supplier has broken competition law by restricting retailers’ freedom to discount online. It is alleged the company stopped retailers from setting their own prices online and forced them to sell at — or above — a minimum price.
This case concerns a relatively small company in the UK, but it has long been clear that the CMA is keen to investigate businesses and markets of all sizes. Companies should therefore ensure that their commercial practices and agreements, including past practices and agreements, are compliant with UK (and EU) competition law. Competition law compliance programmes need to be in place and need to cover online selling.