Swiss Competition Commission updates vertical agreement rules

The Swiss Competition Commission (ComCo) has revised its Notice on Vertical Agreements between companies at different market levels (hereinafter “Vertical Notice”). In doing so, the ComCo considered recent case law and case practice in Switzerland as well as competition law developments in the EU.

Agreements between companies at different market levels, e.g. between manufacturers and retailers, are commonplace. Such agreements usually increase efficiency within a production or distribution chain. However, certain agreements, such as price fixing and foreclosure of the Swiss market, are generally inadmissible. The ComCo and the EU Commission (as the European Competition Authority) indicate which practices are permitted and which are not. Thus, the ComCo published the Vertical Notice including corresponding explanations, the EU Commission the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation including Vertical Guidelines.

The EU has modernised its rules and brought them into force on 1 June 2022. Among other things, the new EU rules consider the findings in online trading and allow greater flexibility in the design of distribution systems. The ComCo informed in its press release that it has subsequently revised its Vertical Notice as it wanted to ensure that the same rules continue to apply in Switzerland as in the EU. Furthermore, the updated Vertical Notice also considers recent Swiss case law including the leading decision of the Federal Supreme Court (Hors list medicines) on recommended prices.

Prior to the revision, the ComCo conducted a public consultation. The proposed adjustments were largely welcomed, especially the strong alignment with EU competition law. The notice will enter into force on 1 January 2023. Companies in Switzerland and abroad have one year to adapt their distribution to the new rules.


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