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In a ruling earlier this year the Brussels Court of Appeal has provided elaborate guidance on the do's and don'ts when setting up a selective distribution system for repair services and spare parts distribution from a competition law perspective.
The appeal was brought before the court by a producer of commercial vehicles that operated a distribution network for authorized dealers who provide on the after market both services regarding repair and the distribution of spare parts. A wholesaler in spare parts for commercial vehicles demanded – and was granted in first instance – access to this network for the sole purpose of reselling the producer's spare parts, thereby refusing to fulfill the criteria regarding the provision of repair services.
The court firmly dismissed this demand and concluded that the selective distribution requiring distributors of spare parts to provide repair services as well (the 'combination requirement') fell within the ambit of the relevant group exemption regulations (GERs).
Even if the GERs had not been applicable, the court considered the nature of the product (spare parts for commercial vehicles) to justify the combination requirement.
Even if the nature of the product did not justify the combination requirement, the court concluded that the distribution system selected by the producer –including the combination requirement – could be individually exempted because:
Brussel, 11 maart 2015, 2014/AR/101, MAN Truck & Bus N.V. tegen Sanders Parts B.V.B.A.