The Legal 500

The new legal frameworks for vertical agreements in the EU and UK – spotlight on key topics

7 June 2022, 4.00pm CEST

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The new legal frameworks for vertical agreements in the EU and UK – spotlight on key topics


The main legal framework in the European Union governing distribution and supply agreements (Vertical Block Exemption Regulation, VBER) expires at the end of May 2022. The European Commission (EC) has recently published the revised VBER together with accompanying guidelines. In parallel, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has adopted a new Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order (VABEO) and issued draft guidance. Both sets of rules will enter into force on 1 June 2022, and will result in significant changes to the current legal framework in the EU and UK.

Some of the changes offer more flexibility to suppliers/brand owners and retailers, but in some instances the changes may lead to stricter rules.

In this webinar, Thomson Reuters and Mayer Brown will moderate a discussion with Johannes Holzwarth from the EC and Ricardo Araujo from the CMA on the practical implications of the main legal changes arising from VBER and VABEO, the areas where the regimes will diverge and the points on which market players may require more guidance in future.

The webinar will among other focus on the following topics:

  • Dual distribution and information exchange – what are the absolute no-go’s and what kind of information can be exchanged between suppliers and resellers?
  • Dealings with online intermediation services and hybrid platforms – are there any legal safe harbours left?
  • Selective distribution and online restrictions – do suppliers have more flexibility now?
  • Exclusive distribution – is exclusive the new selective?


Johannes Holzwarth

European Commission Johannes Holzwarth is a case handler officer at DG Competition’s Unit A1 – Antitrust case support and policy. In this position, he provides procedural and substantive support to case teams investigating and analysing antitrust cases and develops policy and law in the field of antitrust. Johannes is part of the team that worked on the revision of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and the Vertical Guidelines. Previously, he was a policy officer at DG Competition’s Unit A4 – European Competition Network and Private Enforcement where he analysed antitrust policy developments at EU and member state level and followed up on the implementation of the Damages Directive.

Before joining the European Commission, Johannes advised companies on competition law matters as an attorney at an established German law firm. He received a Doctorate degree in law (Dr. iur.) from the University of Münster (Germany) and was awarded a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from the University of Chicago (USA).


Ricardo Araujo

UK Competition and Markets Authority Ricardo Araujo is an assistant legal director at the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) legal service. His role includes providing legal advice to case teams investigating potential breaches of the Competition Act 1998 and providing legal input into policy projects. More recently, he had a leading role on the review of the UK retained vertical agreements block exemption regulation, including on the development of the CMA Guidance on the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order 2022.

Ricardo has over a decade experience in providing legal advice and handling complex competition cases, at other UK concurrent competition authorities, such as the Financial Conduct Authority, and at the Portuguese Competition Authority.

He is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and as a lawyer in Portugal.

Sarwenaz Kiani

Mayer Brown Sarwenaz Kiani is a counsel in Mayer Brown’s antitrust practice in the Düsseldorf and London offices. Being qualified in Germany and the United Kingdom, Sarwenaz advises on a wide range of EU, German and UK antitrust law questions with a specific focus on distribution agreements and investigations into vertical restrictions. Sarwenaz routinely advises clients in the consumer goods, retail and fashion industries on questions regarding setting-up and implementing selective distribution agreements as well as navigating the online environment.

Prior to joining Mayer Brown in 2021, she worked for a renowned international law firm in their London and Frankfurt offices and as trainee at the EU Commission and in an international law firm in Paris. In addition, she has gained in-house experience on a client secondment with a global consumer goods manufacturer. Sarwenaz has studied law at the Humboldt University in Berlin and was awarded a Master degree (Master of European Law) from the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Warsha Kalé

Thomson Reuters – Practical Law (Global) Warsha Kalé is a dual-qualified (UK and US) competition/antitrust lawyer and Senior Legal Editor for Thomson Reuters – Practical Law (Global).  Warsha joined Thomson Reuters after over 20 years in private practice, and has extensive experience in advising both the private and public sector in relation to EU/UK competition law and public/utilities procurement.  She has advised on the full range of contentious and non-contentious competition/antitrust matters, including acting for clients on international cartel investigations and advising on multi-jurisdictional merger control.  Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, Warsha worked at Mayer Brown, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (including a four-month secondment to Khaitan & Co, Mumbai), Norton Rose Fulbright, and Slaughter and May.