ALTIUS updates

Dawn raid's illegality does not automatically void subsequent request for information
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 21 January 2021

The Market Court of the Brussels Court of Appeal recently ruled in a case involving a Belgian telecoms operator, which had been ongoing for more than a decade. In this latest judgment, the Market Court ruled on the effects of a dawn raid's illegality and confirmed the two-step test for determining the same.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 20 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 14 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are on the menu for Belgium?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 23 December 2020

Belgium is following the lead of the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency with respect to its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The European Commission, on behalf of EU member states, has already concluded six advance purchase agreements with vaccine suppliers for a potential total of almost 2 billion doses. Belgium's share presently amounts to a total of 22.4 million vaccines. Purchasing is expected to begin in early January 2021.

District cells' social fraud inspection audits focus on construction sector
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 16 December 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has not prevented the Social Information and Investigation Service from proceeding with its inspection audits concerning illegal employment and social fraud. The available (provisional) data reveals that the construction sector has remained a highly targeted sector. This article highlights some interesting recent findings.

First Belgian ruling on abuse of economic dependence
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 03 December 2020

In August 2020 a new act introducing a prohibition on the abuse of economic dependence entered into force in Belgium. In October 2020 the president of the Ghent Commercial Court has issued a judgment in the first abuse of economic dependence case in Belgium. As there is no equivalent prohibition in EU competition law, practitioners have been waiting for case law guidance on how to apply these conditions. However, it is questionable whether this first case provides such valuable guidance.

Points for retail sector employers to consider when dismissing employees for economic or technical reasons
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 02 December 2020

The retail sector has been one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result employers therein might be considering dismissing employees for economic or technical reasons. Employers must be aware that most joint committees in the retail sector have entered into collective bargaining agreements obliging employers to first take measures to avoid dismissals and, if dismissals cannot be avoided, to comply with a specific procedure.

Employers must provide employees present in workplace with document to certify this fact
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 18 November 2020

The new Ministerial Decree of 1 November 2020 stipulates that, until 13 December 2020, all workers must telework. However, an exception applies when either an employee's role or the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking. In such cases, employers must provide the worker with a certificate or other supporting document attesting that their presence in the workplace is needed. The minister of internal affairs has already announced that inspections will be organised.

Can parallel importers rebrand generic medicines?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 04 November 2020

If a branded medicine and its generic version are put on the EEA market by economically linked undertakings, is a parallel importer then allowed to rebrand and repackage the imported generic version as the branded reference medicine? This issue recently led the Brussels Court of Appeal to refer three questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In anticipation of the ECJ's ruling, this article provides the factual background and explains why a parallel importer should not be allowed to rebrand in such cases.

New teleworking rules to limit further spread of COVID-19
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 28 October 2020

The government recently reinforced the urgent measures to limit the further spread of COVID-19. Teleworking is no longer highly recommended, but has become the standard for all employees whose roles allow for telework. Yet, the new rule is less far-reaching than that in place during the first lockdown, as an exception now applies when the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking.

Last call to implement electronic voting or voting by letter for COVID-19-proof social elections
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 21 October 2020

In principle, companies should have decided whether to vote electronically in the social elections as early as February 2020. However, companies that did not do so but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, would like to do so now have been given the opportunity to introduce electronic voting. However, they must reach an agreement on this issue by Day X+56 (ie, between 13 October 2020 and 26 October 2020, depending on the new election date).

BCA updates its fining guidelines following entry into force of abuse of economic dependence concept
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 08 October 2020

After some last-minute delays, the Royal Decree of 31 July 2020 introduced the concept of abuse of economic dependence in Belgium. Following this royal decree, the Belgian Competition Authority has announced an update to its fining guidelines so that they apply to this new abuse.

COVID-19: new record-keeping obligation and compliance check relating to foreign workers and self-employed individuals
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 30 September 2020

As part of some new measures that aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government has imposed a new record-keeping obligation on certain employers and users which temporarily rely on foreign employees or self-employed individuals. In-scope employers and users must also verify whether the foreign employees and self-employed individuals have duly completed the passenger locator form.

BCA and civil courts rule on interim measure requests in football industry
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 10 September 2020

As in many other European countries, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Pro League – the Belgian professional football league – to set up an alternative arrangement for the end of the disrupted 2019-2020 football season. Subsequently, football clubs have challenged such decisions to prevent relegation or promotion. In this context, the Belgian Competition Authority and the civil courts recently had to rule on different interim measure requests in the football sector relating to competition law.

Advocate general issues opinion on SABAM's tariffs for festivals
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 03 September 2020

Against the backdrop of the legal dispute between festival and concert organisers versus SABAM (the Belgian music authors' collecting society) regarding SABAM's tariffs for festivals and concerts being taken to the European level, in two parallel legal proceedings, one pending before the Brussels Court of Appeal and the other before the Antwerp Enterprise Court, the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union have been asked to shine a light on SABAM's tariffs.

New prohibition on abuses of economic dependence enters into force
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 27 August 2020

The prohibition on the abuse of economic dependence to protect undertakings that are economically dependent on their suppliers or buyers recently entered into force. Thus, Belgium has followed the example of other EU member states by making use of the option offered by Article 3(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to prohibit and penalise unilateral conduct by companies even in the absence of a dominant position.

BCA confirms that merger control rules apply to creation of loco-regional hospital networks
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 20 August 2020

The Belgian Competition Authority's (BCA's) latest note reiterates that competition law rules concerning merger control fully apply to the creation of local hospital networks as required under the Act of 28 February 2019. Although hospitals seem largely unaware of the obligations under the merger control rules attached to such forms of cooperation, they should consider that the BCA is paying more attention to the sector and that significant penalties may be incurred for non-compliance.

New rules on temporary unemployment from 1 September 2020: start preparing now
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 19 August 2020

From 1 September 2020, new rules on temporary unemployment will enter into force. Companies and sectors that are substantially affected by the COVID-19 crisis can continue to apply the current and simplified COVID-19 force majeure temporary unemployment regime until 31 December 2020. For sectors and companies that are not substantially affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the current COVID-19 force majeure regime can no longer be applied from 1 September 2020.

BCA confirms that merger control rules apply to creation of loco-regional hospital networks
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 12 August 2020

The Belgian Competition Authority's (BCA's) latest note reiterates that competition law rules concerning merger control fully apply to the creation of local hospital networks as required under the Act of 28 February 2019. Although hospitals seem largely unaware of the obligations under the merger control rules attached to such forms of cooperation, they should consider that the BCA is paying more attention to the sector and that significant penalties may be incurred for non-compliance.

EU Posted Workers Directive: impact on employers posting workers to Belgium
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 29 July 2020

The Act of 12 June 2020 implemented the EU Posted Workers Directive in Belgium by introducing, among other things, adjustments to the Act of 5 March 2002 Relating to Labour, Salary and Employment Conditions When Posting Workers to Belgium. This article summarises the key changes introduced by the act and its impact on employers.

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