At the end of the Brexit transition period, the EU Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation (VABER) was retained under UK law. The retained VABER is due to expire on 31 May 2022.

On 21 February 2022, the government launched a consultation on the proposed drafting of the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order (draft VABEO) which is set to replace the retained VABER. The draft VABEO aims to ensure that businesses in a ‘vertical’ relationship with each other are not prevented or disincentivised from entering into agreements that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) considers to be overall beneficial and not anti-competitive. Further information can be found in our earlier article on this topic.

The CMA has now issued draft guidance to accompany the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order (VABEO). The purpose of the guidance is to explain how the CMA applies the Chapter I prohibition in the Competition Act 1998 to vertical agreements (ie agreements between businesses operating at different levels of the supply chain). Importantly, it will help businesses to assess whether they fall within the scope of the VABEO.

The CMA is consulting on the draft guidance and those who wish to respond may do so on the government website by 5 May 2022.

For more information, please contact Ashley French, Solicitor in our regulation and markets team, at ashley.french@shepwedd.com, or your usual Shepherd and Wedderburn contact.

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