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Regulatory Investigations and Compliance

We are Stibbe Regulatory Investigations and Compliance specialists

With ever-increasing regulatory complexity filtering through every market, we provide the experience, clarity and pragmatism our clients require.”

Regulatory Investigations and Compliance

The regulation of markets such as finance, energy and media is becoming increasingly complex. We provide the guidance and support our clients need, advising on the entire range of regulatory and compliance issues that may arise.

We invest time to thoroughly understand our clients’ businesses and requirements, providing assistance at every stage of a transaction, as well as threatened or on-going regulatory investigations. We create practical and workable solutions for the broad variety of regulatory issues that may occur.

As much of our work has a cross-border element, we work closely with top-tier law firms in jurisdictions around the world to provide coordinated and integrated solutions.

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05.11.2020 NL law
Belgian prohibition on abuse of economic dependence comes into force and new fining guidelines

Short Reads - In 2019, Belgium introduced legislation banning abuse in relationships between companies where there is no dominant position, but rather a position of economic dependence. The act entered into force on 22 August 2020. This category of restrictive practice applies alongside the existing prohibitions on cartels and abuse of a dominant position. It opens up new opportunities but also new threats for companies that are not in a dominant position.

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05.11.2020 NL law
This article has FIVE stars! New Dutch consumer rules to curb fake reviews

Short Reads - Consumers often rely on online reviews to decide what bike to buy, where to eat or what article to read. But what if those reviews are fake? New Dutch rules were announced on 23 October 2020 seeking to ensure a higher level of consumer protection online. These rules mean more obligations for online traders, and potentially high fines if they get it wrong. For example, traders should implement procedures to ensure that published reviews originate from consumers who have genuinely used the product.

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01.10.2020 NL law
Waiting for the EC: third-party platform bans and RPM still on radar

Short Reads - The results of the European Commission’s evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER) call for more clarity and convergence in the interpretation of certain (online) vertical restrictions. However, the Dutch competition authority (the ACM) and the Dutch courts cannot wait for the European Commission’s revised VBER rules to deal with such sales restrictions.

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01.10.2020 NL law
If you can’t stand the heat: kitchen retailers fined for misleading consumers

Short Reads - There is a new enforcement trend in the Netherlands; consumer protection is shifting from private enforcement before the civil courts, to public enforcement through the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the combined antitrust and consumer protection authority. This is not mere cheap talk from the authority; multimillion fines have already been imposed on Dutch telecom operators and a Dutch energy company, whereas fines approximating one million euro have been imposed on three kitchen retailers, all for allegedly misleading consumers.

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05.11.2020 NL law
Jurisdictional hide & seek: merger thresholds and buyer joint ventures

Short Reads - Companies beware: the turnover of a joint venture buying a target is not necessarily decisive for determining whether the EU merger thresholds are met. The General Court fully upheld the Commission’s 2017 decision prohibiting the joint acquisition of Cemex’s Hungarian and Croatian subsidiaries by cement companies HeidelbergCement and Schwen Zement through their full-function joint venture (JV).

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01.10.2020 NL law
Directors' liability due to competition law infringements by the company

Short Reads - The District Court Noord-Nederland recently allowed the trustees in bankruptcy of Northsea shrimp trading company Heiploeg to recover part of a EUR 27 million cartel fine from a former director. Internationally, the question whether companies can recover competition law fines through civil claims against individuals involved in the competition law infringement, is controversial. The court held, however, that the director’s personal involvement in the infringement amounted to ‘serious mismanagement’, triggering personal liability to pay damages.

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01.10.2020 NL law
Cigarettes producers fined for alleged indirect info exchange

Short Reads - Enforcement of competition rules in relation to indirect information exchange seems to be catching on; while the European Commission only flagged the risks in its consumer electronics cases, the ACM has taken up the challenge and imposed fines. Four cigarettes producers were fined a total of EUR 82 million for allegedly indirectly exchanging information on the future retail prices of cigarettes through their wholesalers and other buyers. According to the ACM, the manufacturers knowingly accepted this information and used it to determine their own pricing strategies.

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24.09.2020 BE law
Stibbe hosts a webinar on dawn raids organised by IBJ/IJE

Seminar - On 24 September 2020, several Stibbe lawyers ​​​​​explain the rights and obligations of companies when confronted with announced or unannounced raids. What do to when, for example, tax authorities, the competition authorities, police services or a bailiff are at your doorstep?

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05.11.2020 NL law
General Court confirms: no proof, no dawn raid

Short Reads - The Commission should think twice before conducting a dawn raid. The General Court partially annulled three Commission decisions ordering dawn raids at the premises of French supermarkets for a lack of sufficiently strong evidence with regard to one of the suspected anticompetitive practices. In addition, the General Court clarified that interviews held with suppliers prior to the issuing of a dawn raid decision can be used as evidence, even when these interviews have not been recorded.

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01.10.2020 NL law
EU merger control: Dutch clause to catch future killer acquisitions

Short Reads - Competition Commissioner Vestager presented a sneak peak of her plans for the future of EU merger control on the 30th anniversary of the EU Merger Regulation. The proposed plans include a simplification of the notification procedure and a new approach towards the system of referral to ensure that significant transactions, particularly in the digital and pharmaceutical industries, no longer escape Commission scrutiny.

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01.10.2020 NL law
What to expect when you are expecting: broader investment screening in the Netherlands

Short Reads - On 8 September 2020, a draft bill setting up an ex-ante and ex-post screening mechanism for investments in companies active in vital processes or sensitive technology in the Netherlands was published for consultation. Investments, mergers and acquisitions that took place between 2 June 2020 and the entry into force of the proposed law may also be scrutinised. The draft bill is open for consultation until 7 October 2020. Companies should beware of these new developments in relation to future, and potentially past, M&A deals.

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03.09.2020 NL law
COVID-19 impacts level and payment of antitrust fines

Short Reads - As well as granting companies leeway on certain COVID-19 initiated collaborations (see our May 2020 newsletter), the coronavirus outbreak has also led competition authorities to take a more lenient stance towards fine calculations and payments. The European Commission has extended the due date for fine payments by an additional three months in response to potential short-term liquidity issues brought about by the pandemic. Similar reasons led the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeal Tribunal to reduce a EUR 1 million cartel fine to just EUR 10,000.

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