Whilst not a sea of difference apart, the two regimes present notable distinctions for companies operating on both sides of the Channel to navigate.

By David Little and Alexandra Luchian

Upon its expiry on 31 May 2022, the 2010 Vertical Block Exemption Regulation was replaced by the 2022 Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER) in the EU and the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order (VABEO) in the UK. The European Commission (EC) issued its Vertical Guidelines at the same time whilst the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its VABEO guidance in July 2022. Both the EU VBER and the UK VABEO allowed a one-year transitional period for agreements concluded before 1 June 2022 to be brought in line with the new regimes.

With both regimes now applicable to “old” and “new” vertical agreements alike, this blog post provides an overview of the key differences between the EU VBER and the UK VABEO. It follows and updates our previous blog post which included an outline of the main similarities and differences between the draft UK VABEO and the draft EU VBER (as of September 2021).[1]

The directives aim to assist claimants in proving the causation of damages and product defectiveness in complex AI systems, creating legal certainty for providers.

By Deborah J. Kirk, Thomas Vogel, Grace E. Erskine, Ben Leigh, Alex Park, and Amy Smyth

On 28 September 2022, the European Commission issued two proposed directives to reform and clarify liability rules on artificial intelligence (AI):

  1. The Directive on Adapting Non-Contractual Civil Liability Rules to Artificial Intelligence (AI Liability Directive) introduces rules on evidence and causation to facilitate civil claims for damages in respect of harm to end users caused by AI systems.
  2. The Directive on Liability for Defective Products (Revised Product Liability Directive) seeks to repeal and replace the 1985 Product Liability Directive (Directive 85/374/EEC) with an updated framework to better reflect the digital economy. The Revised Product Liability Directive proposes to explicitly include AI products within the scope of its strict liability regime and to modify the burden of proof for establishing defectiveness of technically or scientifically complex products like AI systems.

A new regulation to control foreign subsidies could entail more complex, costly, and time-consuming deal clearances.

By Carles Esteva Mosso, Tom D. Evans, Elisabetta Righini, David J. Walker, Gillian Bourke, Natália Solárová, Werner Berg, France-Helene Boret, and Catherine Campbell

European M&A is set to become more complex after the entry into force of the Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR), a new regime introduced to control foreign subsidies that distort the EU internal market. This unprecedented new regulatory layer will apply in addition to existing merger control and foreign direct investment scrutiny, and comes at a time of heightened regulatory focus on deals across multiple jurisdictions.

The European Commission continues to explore how competition policy can support the bloc’s increased focus on sustainability and progression towards climate neutrality by 2050.

By David Little and Anuj Ghai

On 10 September 2021, Inge Bernaerts, Director of DG Competition, delivered a keynote speech at the 25th IBA Competition Conference on behalf of Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager. (The speech was complemented by a concurrent Policy Brief.) The European Commission (the EC) has often used the annual conference as a platform to announce new policy initiatives. This year, the Commissioner’s speech focused on how competition policy could be used to support the European Green Deal — a set of policy and regulatory initiatives intended to enable the bloc to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. For more information, see Latham’s previous posts here, here, and here.

The long-awaited update to the e-Commerce Directive proposes new obligations for online platforms and changes to the ‘safe harbours’ from liability for infringing content.

By Jean-Luc Juhan, Deborah J. Kirk, Elisabetta Righini, Thies Deike, Grace E. Erskine, Alain Traill, and Amy Smyth

On 15 December 2020, the European Commission released a set of long-awaited proposals to create a safer and fairer digital space, including the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act

The CMA’s efforts to make dynamic, forward-looking assessments of parties’ overlaps will only increase post-Brexit.

By John Colahan, Tom Evans, David Little, Jonathan ParkerDavid WalkerGreg Bonné, Anuj Ghai, and Catherine Campbell

Dealmakers must be alert to the increasingly interventionist approach of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), including on transactions with a limited nexus to the UK. Until now, the European Commission has acted as a “one-stop shop” for large-cap transactions. But the end of the Brexit transition period means that from the start of 2021, acquirers may face parallel EU and UK investigations — with the effect that the CMA will play a more prominent role in reviewing global deals.

The initiative includes a competition law sustainability “sandbox” in which market participants could team up to work on sustainable business projects.

By David Little and Pierre Bichet

The Greek Competition Authority (HCC) has announced a public consultation on how competition law rules might be adapted to promote more sustainable business practices. The HCC published a Staff Discussion Paper and held a digital conference to launch the consultation.

The HCC’s exploratory proposals outline a number of novel concepts, including: (1) the creation of a competition law sustainability “sandbox” in which market participants could team up to work on sustainable business projects with some measure of protection from competition rules; and (2) the establishment of an “Advice Unit” comprising experts from different regulatory authorities who could provide informal advice on sustainability-related initiatives. The proposals also envisage the publication of general guidelines defining the contours of legitimate cooperation between rivals on sustainability projects.

The regulation is part of the EU Digital Single Market strategy to harmonise digital rights.

By Deborah J. Kirk, Elva Cullen, and Grace E. Erskine

From 12 July 2020, the EU’s Platform-to-Business Regulation 2019/1150 (P2B Regulation) promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services applies. The P2B Regulation, which entered into force in June 2019, came about in response to complaints from SMEs regarding unfair practices and lack of transparency by online platforms, and the European Commission’s review of the same.

European Commission proposes one-year postponement in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

By Frances Stocks Allen and Oliver Mobasser

On 25 March 2020, the European Commission announced that it was working on a proposal to postpone the date of application for the new EU Medical Devices Regulation (MDR)[i] for one year, in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The MDR had been due to become fully active on 26 May 2020.

The Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety noted in a press release that the Commission was working to submit this proposal in early April, for swift adoption by the European Parliament and the European Council. The proposed postponement aims to relieve pressure on national authorities, notified bodies, manufacturers, and others, allowing them to focus fully on urgent COVID-19-related priorities.