Newsflash: Alleged Amazon abuse and restrictive clauses in retailer contracts

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The French economy ministry has taken what it has described as the “strong and unprecedented act” of filing a complaint before the Paris Commercial Court and seeking a EUR 10 million fine against Amazon, for the imposition of what it says are unfair contractual restrictions and Amazon’s abuse of its dominant position.

The claim follows a two-year investigation carried out by the consumer regulator, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Repression of Fraud. The investigation criticised clauses within Amazon’s retailer contacts allowing it the ability to unilaterally change terms, such as the ability for Amazon to require shorter delivery times, to block sales or to suspend sellers’ accounts.

This complaint relates to Amazon’s operations in France, but there may well be implications for retailers with affected cross-border contracts. Similarly, publicity surrounding the case could prompt Amazon’s retailers in the UK and elsewhere to review their contracts for any terms which might be considered to be unfair or anti-competitive.

Walker Morris’ retail, competition and commercial contract experts will monitor the case with interest and will report on any key developments.

If you would like any advice or assistance in connection with any of your retail or commercial contracts, please do not hesitate to contact Gwendoline Davies, Walker Morris’ Head of Commercial Dispute resolution, and retail sector specialist.