Horizontal Competitor Contact: 'Don't call us and we won't call you'
Lee Callaghan, Senior Corporate Lawyer, Aviva Plc, UK
EC Sectoral inquiry into business insurances and the new draft guidelines on information exchanges in the Maritime Transport Sector: What are the key findings in the inquiry, what is the connection between the two and what is real the impact on information exchange law? In-house lawyers are often asked about the degree of contact that's permissible between direct competitors. Have the recent events of the Insurance sectoral inquiry and the new draft guidelines in maritime transport made their job to advise in this area any easier or any harder? At a time when the European Commission (EC) has imposed record amounts of fines in 2006 and again in 2007, and with competition policy becoming a central part of European economic policy, the recent publication in September of the final report by the EC on the sectoral inquiry into business insurances ('Insurance Inquiry Report') is an important event. This is especially so if you deal with intermediaries, their contractual obligations and their remuneration (as the potential conflicts of interest that might arise are still being considered by the EC), you are involved in issues arising from coinsurance and co-reinsurance groups (as the EC have reached initial conclusions about how they currently operate in Europe and how they would like to see them operate in future), or if you advise on any issues that are currently covered by the insurance sector block exemption (Regulation 358/2003/EC) ('the Exemption'). On this last issue, the specific challenge from the EC is for industry to demonstrate to it that it still needs the Exemption (and this type of challenge is somewhat unique when no formal review has yet been done) but its also worth remembering that the exemption would have been reviewed thoroughly in 2009 anyway (there's a provision in the Regulation itself to allow this), given it was always due to expire in 2010.
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