Analysing vertical agreements under competition law
Analysing vertical agreements under competition law

The following Competition guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Analysing vertical agreements under competition law
  • What are vertical agreements?
  • Assessment under Article 101 TFEU
  • When will a vertical infringement not infringe Article 101 TFEU?
  • Distinction between restrictions on active and passive sales
  • Internet sales
  • Geo-blocking
  • Vertical agreements and Article 102 TFEU
  • Motor vehicle distribution and 'aftermarkets'
  • Intellectual property obligations
  • more

This Practice Note is important first stage reading for analysing vertical restraints, that is, restrictions in vertical agreements caught by Article 101(1) TFEU (see The prohibition on restrictive agreements) under competition law. It covers the European Commission’s vertical restraints policy, the circumstances in which a vertical restraint will not infringe competition law and specific current issues arising in relation to the application of competition law where the principles are not yet settled. It also covers the evolving practice of the UK competition authorities to vertical agreements.

This Practice Note makes frequent references to two legal instruments issued by the Commission that are designed to assist parties and their advisors in determining the compatibility of their arrangements with Article 101 TFEU, namely the Vertical Restraints Block Exemption (VRBE, Regulation 330/2010) and the Commission Guidelines on Vertical Restraints. These instruments also inform the approach of the UK competition authorities when applying UK competition law to an agreement that may affect trade between Member States.

See further, Competition law and exclusive distribution agreements, Competition law and selective distribution, Competition law and agency, Competition law and franchise agreements, The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption and Resale price maintenance.

What are vertical agreements?

Agreements and practices which appreciably restrict competition fall into two broad categories:

  1. high risk—anti-competitive agreements between competitors. Anti-competitive agreements between competitors are treated most severely