Latest news

« »

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Court of Justice on criteria for choice of dealer in selective system

The Court of Justice handed down judgment today in Case C-158/11, Auto 24 SARL v Jaguar Land Rover France SAS, a reference from the Cour de cassation. It's an important decision on the application of Regulation 1400/2002 which will remain relevant after the new rules come into force this time next year. While I read and digest the judgment, here's an extract from the press release to be going on with:
The present case concerns the quantitative selective distribution system established by Jaguar Land Rover France (JLR), which refused to appoint the French company Auto 24 as an authorised distributor of new Land Rover  motor vehicles in Périgueux (France).  JLR’s distribution system provided for the possibility of concluding 72 dealership agreements for 109 sites, set out in a table in which the town of Périgueux does not feature. 
Auto 24 brought an appeal before the Cour de cassation (France) seeking, in essence, compensation for the loss resulting from the refusal to appoint it as an authorised JLR distributor in Périgueux. That court asks the Court of Justice to interpret the term ‘specified criteria’ [found in Article 1(1)(f) of the block exemption]. In essence, the question is whether, in order to benefit from that regulation, a quantitative selective distribution system must be based on criteria which are objectively justified and applied in a uniform manner in respect of all applicants for authorisation. 
... [T]he Court explains that it refers to criteria whose precise content may  be verified. It states that  it is not necessary that the selection criteria used be published, at the risk  of compromising business secrets, or even facilitating possible collusive behaviour.  
The Court  points out that  the exemption regulation lays down distinct conditions for application according to  whether the system in question is classified as ‘quantitative selective distribution’ or ‘qualitative selective distribution’. Therefore, if, in the context of the regulation, the quantitative selection criteria had to be objective and non-discriminatory, that would result in a conflation of the conditions required by the regulation for the application of the exemption regulation to qualitative selective  distribution  systems and those required for the application of the exemption to quantitative selective distribution systems. 
Consequently, the Court's answer is that, in order to benefit from the exemption regulation, a quantitative selective distribution system must be based, inter alia, on criteria whose precise content may be verified, but it is not necessary for such a system to be based on criteria which are objectively justified and applied in a uniform and non-differentiated manner in respect of all applicants for authorisation. 
The emphasis is in the original.

No comments:

Post a Comment