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Antitrust law – Narrow best price clauses for online hotel bookings are permissible

June 2019 - Antitrust & Competition. Legal Developments by GRP Rainer LLP.

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On June 4, 2019, the 1st Cartel Panel of the OLG Düsseldorf ruled that narrow best price clauses for online hotel bookings are permissible (Az.: VI – Kart 2/16 (V).

Hotel rooms are frequently booked online via booking portals. For this reason, some portals commit hotels to always offering the most favorable conditions on their portal. This practice was later modified, with hotels only obliged not to offer rooms cheaper on their own websites than on the booking portal. We at GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte can report, however, that the Bundeskartellamt prohibited these best price clauses for violating antitrust law.

The OLG Düsseldorf has now overturned the Bundeskartellamt’s decision from December 22, 2015, ruling that the modified “narrow” best price clauses are permissible. In reaching its decision, the 1st Cartel Panel relied on a hotel and customer survey it had arranged. Accordingly, the Court found that the clauses do not restrict competition, but rather are necessary to ensure a fair and balanced exchange of services between the portals and the contracted hotels. The OLG held that the clauses could prevent customers from being dishonestly redirected from a portal to the hotel website.

Lawyers with experience in antitrust law can offer advice. 

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