June 21, 2010

The Paris Court of Appeal quashes the French Antitrust Authority’s authorization to inspect Amaury Group’s premises.

On June 17, 2010, the President of the Regulation Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal overruled the May 12, 2009 decision of the newly created Autorité de la concurrence, authorizing a "dawn raid" on the premises of Willkie client Amaury Group’s companies (Le Parisien, Aujourd’hui Sport, Amaury Médias and les Editions P.Amaury). The authorization was granted in response to a complaint filed by rival sports newspaper 10Sport, alleging that the Amaury Group was in abuse of its market dominant position by launching a competing publication in conjunction with the launch of 10Sport.

The court found that inspections of press companies may be authorized and carried out only if precise and serious presumptions are presented by the administration, and that the presumptions alleged against Amaury Group were indeed insufficient. The court also found, prima facie, that the launch of a competing publication by Amaury Group was a pro-competitive action and not an abuse of a dominant position.

This decision fully quashes the Autorité de la concurrence order, which was based mainly upon the complainant’s allegations. All searches have been cancelled and the restitution of all seized documents has been ordered.

Antitrust aspects of the matter were handled by partner Jacques Philippe Gunther and associates Faustine Viala and Dounia Ababou.