Department of Justice Targets Most Favored Nation Clauses
On Oct. 18, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, in a joint action with the
Michigan attorney general, filed a
civil antitrust action against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan alleging
that the insurer's use of most favored nation clauses has stifled competition
and raised prices on healthcare services and insurance. Most favored nation
clauses in agreements between insurers and healthcare providers guarantee that
no rival can get a better rate than the insurer. Though this lawsuit involves
the healthcare industry, it could have important implications for any business
that uses most favored nation clauses.
Knowledge of Price Discrimination in Shipping Policy May Trigger Liability
A federal district court recently ruled that a manufacturer's shipping
policy—in which the manufacturer shipped to one distributor, but refused to ship
to a competitor of that distributor—is actionable under the Robinson-Patman Act.
Gorlick Distribution Centers, LLC v. Car Sound Exhaust System, Inc.,
evidence that the favored distributor knew about the shipping policy and the
competitor's net price was higher because of the refusal to ship was sufficient
to survive a motion for summary judgment. This case serves as a warning that
different shipping terms may constitute cognizable price discrimination.
Class Actions on the Rise in Canada
Although class actions are relatively new to Canada, cross-border claims are
becoming more common. The significant procedural differences between U.S. and
Canadian courts can have significant implications for litigants involved in
parallel cases in the two countries. For example, Canada does not have a
federal court system or multidistrict litigation mechanism, and class
certification standards may differ. Accordingly, careful case management is
United Kingdom Antitrust Agencies to Merge
On Oct. 14, 2010, the U.K. government announced a proposal to combine the
Office of Fair Trading’s competition functions and the Competition Commission in
one agency devoted to competition and markets. The new agency would be
responsible for merger regulation, market investigations, cartel and antitrust
cases, as well as a number of functions concerning regulated utilities.
Additional information is available in our
England & Wales Competition Law
For more information, please contact the lawyers in the
Antitrust & Trade
Regulation Department at McGuireWoods.