Suppliers watch out, ACM will also supervize buyer agreements!
April 2019 – by Tessa de Mönnink en Annelies van Zoest
Suppliers and buyers constantly make agreements on purchase, sale and resale of products and services, within the context inter alia of distribution, dealer and franchise agreements. The Autoriteit Consument en Markt (Authority Consumers and Market – ACM) will supervize whether these agreements are not disadvantageous to competition and consumers. In that case, the agreements are prohibited.
When can agreements with suppliers or buyers cause problems? For instance, if the supplier forces the buyer to ask a specific minimum price for products or services from his customers. Or if the supplier tries to avoid or prohibit internet sale or uses absolute market-sharing whereat passive sale is prohibited.
On 26 February 2019, the ACM published a new guideline for agreements between suppliers and buyers. It can be consulted through the following link: https://www.acm.nl/nl/publicaties/leidraad-afspraken-tussen-leveranciers-en-afnemers with a practical guide: https://www.acm.nl/sites/default/files/documents/2019-02/leveranciers-en-afnemers-mogen-samenwerken-maar-er-zijn-grenzen.pdf.
The ACM announced that the coming time it will watch out more strictly for prohibited (price) agreements. This also seems to match the new line of the European Commission. Until recently, the Commission did not really prioritize this either. This seems to change. Recently, the Commission fined four manufacturers of consumer electronics a sum of over 110 million euro, because they had imposed fixed selling prices or minimum selling prices upon their online retailers.
It is certainly recommended that suppliers will adapt their business conduct to this in order to avoid being sanctioned (including fines), or buyers claiming that the agreements made with them are null and void.