The law applying to restrictions on distributors’ use of the Internet for EU sales continues to evolve. Many issues are unclear and undecided, but in the meantime, distributors can point to various cases supporting limits on manufacturers’ attempts to restrict their behaviour.
One of these undecided issues is the extent to which distributors can be banned from using online price comparison tools. The CMA recently investigated this issue and announced on 24 January 2017 that vehicle manufacturer BMW agreed to drop such restrictions which it had imposed on its UK dealers.
This arose out of a complaint by UK new car portal, carwow. It told the CMA that BMW UK was stopping its dealers from listing BMW and MINI cars on the portal. Following engagement with the CMA, BMW UK informed the CMA of its decision to change its policy in order to allow its dealers to work with carwow and similar internet-based new car portals.
These general principles can be applied to any other industry in the UK and also apply EU-wide.