On 26 September 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) announced the launch of its investigation into suspected breaches of the Competition Act 1998, Chapter I prohibition and Article 101 TFEU in the use of certain retail most favoured nation clauses by a price comparison website in relation to home insurance products.
Retail ‘most favoured nation’ clauses in online retailing require the provider of a product (good or service) to price that product via the online outlet (in the case under consideration, the price comparison website) at a price that is as low or lower than the price at which the product is sold at rival outlets. The CMA has previously expressed concerns where the rival outlets covered by the retail most favoured nation clause include rival comparison websites (so-called ‘wide most favoured nation’ clauses).
In its final report into digital comparison tools (DCTs), published on Tuesday, the CMA found that certain types of contracts between suppliers and DCTs can limit suppliers’ ability to offer a lower price on one platform than on another. The CMA has not yet reached a view on whether there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of competition law for it to issue a statement of objections to any of the parties to the agreement or agreements under investigation. A decision on whether to proceed with or close the investigation is expected in March 2018.