Vertical Agreements and UK Competition Law

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

  • Vertical Agreements and UK Competition Law
  • Brexit
  • The Chapter I prohibition
  • Modernisation of the policy on vertical restraints
  • Vertical agreements covered by the VRBE
  • Meaning of ‘vertical’
  • Market share threshold
  • Hardcore restrictions
  • Excluded restrictions
  • Non-application
  • More...

Vertical Agreements and UK Competition Law

Vertical agreements are those entered into between two or more firms operating at different levels of the market, for example, distribution, agency and franchising agreements. This Practice Note considers the UK regime relating to vertical agreements.

The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation (VRBE, Regulation No 330/2010) defines a category of vertical agreements which the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will normally regard as satisfying the conditions set out in section 9 of the Competition Act 1998 and will not therefore fall foul of the Chapter I prohibition.

This Practice Note considers the application of the Chapter I prohibition and possible exclusions from its applications, the relevance of VRBE, vertical agreements involving horizontal co-ordination, examples of enforcement of the Chapter I prohibition against vertical restrictions, including resale price maintenance, price parity arrangements and the application of Chapter II prohibition.


The UK was part of the EU for almost 50 years. Although the implementation period ended on 31 December 2020, there still remains a significant overlap between the application of Chapter I and Article 101 TFEU. Change is likely to happen relatively gradually, as it will depend on the issues raised by cases before the CMA and the courts. Therefore, EU case-law and guidance are likely to remain influential in practice for some time.

The Chapter I prohibition

The key legal source on the regulation

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