ECJ A beer supply agreement is prohibited by Article 85(1) of the EEC Treaty if two cumulative conditions are met. The first is that, having regard to the economic and legal context of the agreement at issue, it is difficult for competitors who could enter the market or increase their market share to gain access to the national market for the distribution of beer in premises for the sale and consumption of drinks. The fact that, in that market, the agreement in issue is one of a number of similar agreements having a cumulative effect on competition constitutes only one factor amongst others in assessing whether access to that market is indeed difficult. The second condition is that the agreement in question must make a significant contribution to the sealing-off effect brought about by the totality of those agreements in their economic and legal context. The extent of the contribution made by the individual agreement depends on the position of the contracting parties in the relevant market and on the duration of the agreement.
A beer supply agreement which contains an access clause, that is to say one which permits the reseller to buy beer from other Member States, is not such as to affect trade between States provided that the permission corresponds to a real possibility for a national or foreign supplier to supply the reseller with beers from other Member States. That possibility is to be assessed in the light of the wording of the clause, regard also being had to the specific effect of all the contractual clauses in their economic and legal context.
A beer supply agreement does not satisfy the conditions laid down in Article 6(1) of Regulation No 1984/83 for block exemption for this type of agreement if the drinks covered by the exclusive purchasing terms are not listed in the text of the agreement itself but are stated to be those set out in the price list of the brewery or its subsidiaries, as amended from time to time.
Where a beer supply agreement relating to premises used for the sale and consumption of drinks leased or made available to the reseller by the supplier and entailing a purchasing obligation for drinks other than beer cannot enjoy the block exemption provided for in Regulation No 1984/83 because that agreement does not meet the requirement laid down in Article 8(2)(b) of that regulation that the reseller should have the right in certain cases to obtain drinks from other suppliers, that does not necessarily mean that the whole of the contract is void under Article 85(2) of the Treaty, if only because such an agreement may qualify for exemption under another head. If anything is void, it is only those aspects of the agreement prohibited by Article 85(1). The agreement as a whole is void only if those parts do not appear to be severable from the agreement itself.
Whilst both Articles 85(1) and 86 of the Treaty and the provisions of the exemption regulations produce direct effect in relations between individuals and create rights directly in respect of the individuals concerned which the national courts must safeguard, that does not mean that national courts may extend the sphere of application of the block exemption for agreements provided for in Regulation No 1984/83 to a beer supply agreement not explicitly complying with the conditions for exemption contained in that regulation; nor may they declare Article 85(1) of the Treaty inapplicable to such an agreement under Article 85(3). A national court may, however, declare the agreement void under Article 85(2) if it is certain that the agreement could not be the subject of an exemption under Article 85(3). Otherwise, it may in any event, on the one hand, request a preliminary ruling under Article 177 of the Treaty and, on the other, contact the Commission, which, by virtue of its duty of sincere cooperation with the judicial authorities of the Member States responsible for ensuring that Community law is applied and respected in the national legal system, will supply the national court with such economic and legal information as is necessary in order to resolve the litigation before the national court and which it is in a position to provide.
C-234/89,  ECR I-935,  EUECJ C-234/89
EEC Treaty 85(1)
Cited – Crehan v Inntrepreneur Pub Company (CPC) CA 21-May-2004
The claimant had taken two leases, but had been made subject to beer ties with the defendant. He claimed damages for the losses, saying he had been forced to pay higher prices than those allowed to non-tied houses, and that the agreement was . .
Cited – Courage Ltd and Crehan v Crehan and Courage Ltd and Others ECJ 20-Sep-2001
The company had leased a public house to the respondent. The lease was subject to a tie, under which the respondent had to purchase supplies from the company. The company came to sue for the price of beer supplied. The respondent asserted that the . .
Cited – H J Banks and Co Ltd v British Coal Corporation ECJ 13-Apr-1994
The European Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over ECSC treaty disputes. The duty of sincere cooperation imposed the obligation on the national court to mitigate as far as possible in the interests of the Community the risk of a conflicting . .
Cited – Neste Markkinointi Oy v Yotuuli Ky and Others ECJ 7-Dec-2000
The court considered a petrol station agreement under which the operator of the station agreed to take fuel from a single supplier. The agreement was for 10 years and thereafter the operator could terminate the agreement by giving a year’s notice. . .
Cited – Inntrepreneur Pub Company (CPC) and others v Crehan HL 19-Jul-2006
The tenant had taken on pub leases with ties requiring him to buy beer from companies associated with the landlords. The European Commission had issued a decision and the House was asked whether this was binding on the parties.
Held: . .
Cited – Parks v Esso Petroleum Company Limited CA 23-Jul-1999
The claimant sought to add a claim under the regulations for compensation after termination of his agency for the defendants. The lower court had rejected his claim saying that the petrol products he sold were at a price fixed by Esso, and that . .
Cited – Emerald Supplies Ltd and Others v British Airways Plc ChD 4-Oct-2017
EC has sole jurisdiction over old cartels
Several claimants alleged that the defendant airway had been part of a cartel which had overcharged for freight services. The court now heard arguments about whether it had jurisdition to deal with claims which preceded the measures which had . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 03 January 2021; Ref: scu.160313