Competition law and land agreements
Competition law and land agreements

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

  • Competition law and land agreements
  • What happens to a land agreement that infringes competition law?
  • Assessing land agreements
  • When is the CMA likely to investigate?
  • Dominant companies and land agreements
  • Groceries Market Investigation (Controlled Land) Order
  • UK damages actions
  • Examples of land agreements and their impact

Land agreements are not an area that most people would associate with competition law concerns but care is needed to ensure that no such concerns arise.

A land agreement is one which creates, alters, transfers or terminates an interest in land. Examples of land agreements are:

  1. an agreement for the sale of the freehold

  2. a lease agreement

  3. assignments of leasehold interests

  4. agreements relating to easements

  5. licences, and

  6. in Scotland, interests under a lease and other heritable rights in or over land, such as heritable securities

Land agreements were traditionally excluded from the UK prohibition on anti-competitive agreements. However, during the Competition Commission's groceries market investigation, concerns arose as to the use by grocery retailers of restrictive covenants to prevent land being developed as a competing grocery store. In effect, this practice created a barrier to entry.

The UK government therefore decided to bring all land agreements within the full scope of competition law, including those agreements already in force.

On 24 March 2011, the former Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published guidance on the application of competition law to land agreements to assist business in carrying out their self-assessment of land agreements for compatibility with competition law. The CMA has adopted this guidance, which it continues to apply as if references to the OFT are references to the CMA.

The guidance explains that there are