Short Reads

District Court Amsterdam rules real estate platform Funda did not abuse its dominant position

District Court Amsterdam rules real estate platform Funda did not abu

District Court Amsterdam rules real estate platform Funda did not abuse its dominant position

03.04.2018 NL law

On 21 March 2018, the District Court of Amsterdam delivered its judgment in a dispute between two real estate associations (VBO Makelaars and NVM) over the online platform of Funda Real Estate (Funda). The Court dismissed VBO's claim that Funda abused its dominant position by applying discriminatory contract terms.

 

Funda owns the website www.funda.nl, which serves as an online real estate platform in the Netherlands. The Dutch Association of Real Estate Agents (NVM) is co-founder of the website and indirectly holds shares in Funda. Other real estate agencies such as VBO Makelaars (VBO) have agreements with Funda, which allow their members to post property on the Funda website. However, NVM members receive preferential treatment in terms of cost, use of website functionalities and the ranking of properties. VBO argued that Funda was abusing its dominant position by applying unequal terms to VBO.

To determine the relevant market and whether Funda had a dominant position on this market, the District Court appointed not less than three economic experts. On the basis of their expert advice, the District Court found that Funda had a dominant position on the online housing market in the Netherlands. With respect to the abuse, the District Court noted that VBO had to demonstrate that the alleged discrimination tended to distort the competitive position of VBO. Discrimination alone is insufficient to establish an abuse.

Relying on a recent opinion of Advocate General Wahl in the case of MEO/Autoridade da Concorrência, the District Court stated that whether the discrimination affected VBO's ability to exert competitive pressure should also be determined. To that end, it was necessary to examine the actual or potential effects of the conduct.

The District Court concluded that VBO had not shown that the discrimination in relation to the costs or the access to the site's functionalities tended to distort its competitive position. In relation to the preferential treatment of NVM agents' property listings, the expert advice also showed that there was no clear indication that this tended to distort VBO's competitive position. As a result, the District Court ruled that Funda had not abused its dominant position.

The case follows a trend where claimants that allege an abuse of a dominant position directly take their case before the civil courts, instead of submitting a complaint to the ACM. The benefit of taking the civil court route is that the case cannot be dismissed on the basis of a priority policy (like the ACM), but – as shown in this case – it remains difficult to establish the existence of an abuse.

 

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of April 2018. Other articles in this newsletter:

1.       District Court rules on the preliminary defences in CRT case

2.       First Dutch excessive pricing case in pharma may be expected soon

Team

Related news

14.08.2019 BE law
Verklaring van openbaar nut is geen "project" in de zin van de MER-regelgeving

Articles - In een recent arrest bevestigt de Raad van State dat "verklaringen van openbaar nut", bedoeld in artikel 10 van de wet van 12 april 1965 betreffende het vervoer van gasachtige produkten en andere door middel van leidingen niet onder het begrip "project" uit de project-MER-regelgeving valt. Of hetzelfde geldt voor elk type gelijkaardige administratieve toelating, is daarmee evenwel nog niet gezegd. Niettemin geeft de Raad met zijn arrest een belangrijk signaal dat niet elke mogelijke toelating onder de project-MER-regelgeving valt.

Read more

01.08.2019 NL law
Brand owners beware: Commission tough on cross-border sales restrictions

Short Reads - The European Commission recently imposed a EUR 6.2 million fine on Hello Kitty owner Sanrio for preventing its licensees from selling licensed merchandising products across the entire EEA. Sanrio is the second licensor (after Nike) to be fined for imposing territorial sales restrictions on its non-exclusive licensees for licensed merchandise. A third investigation into allegedly similar practices by Universal Studios is ongoing. The case confirms the Commission's determination to tackle these practices, regardless of type or form.

Read more

08.08.2019 BE law
Regulating online platforms: piece of the puzzle

Articles - The new Regulation no. 2019/1150 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services, applicable as of 12 July 2020, is another piece of the puzzle regulating online platforms, this time focussing on the supply side of the platforms.

Read more

01.08.2019 NL law
Call of duty: Commission must state reasons when straying from its guidelines

Short Reads - The European Commission has lost a second battle concerning its EUR 15 million fine imposed upon interdealer broker ICAP, this time before the European Court of Justice. The Court upheld the previous judgment of the General Court on the basis of the Commission's failure to state reasons concerning its fining methodology of cartel facilitator ICAP. This may lead to more reasoned Commission decisions in the future - deterrence of cartel behaviour does not justify keeping the methodology for setting the fines as a 'black box'.

Read more

01.08.2019 NL law
General court dismisses all five appeals in the optical disk drives cartel

Short Reads - The General Court recently upheld a Commission decision finding that suppliers of optical disk drives colluded in bids for sales to Dell and HP by engaging in a network of parallel bilateral contacts over a multi-year period. The General Court rejected applicants' arguments regarding the Commission's fining methodology, including that the Commission ought to have provided reasons for not departing from the general methodology set out in its 2006 Guidelines.

Read more

22.07.2019 NL law
HagaZiekenhuis beboet voor datalek

Short Reads - Enkele maanden geleden vierden we de eerste verjaardag van de Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming (AVG) met een uitgebreide beschouwing  over de belangrijkste  ontwikkelingen uit  het eerste jaar van de verordening. We concludeerden daarin onder meer dat de door sommigen voorspelde hoge bestuurlijke boetes voor overtredingen van de AVG tot dan toe  - zowel in Nederland als in de andere EU-lidstaten - grotendeels waren uitgebleven.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring