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Published 27 mayo 2014
Since April 2011 the Competition Act 1998's anti-competitive provisions have applied to previously excluded land agreements, such as leases and agreements for lease.
Until the very recent County Court decision in Martin Retail v Crawley BC (2014), there had been no reported case on the application of the regime to land agreements and the Martin decision is therefore of great interest.
The Judge had to consider whether a proposed user clause in a lease renewal expressly prohibiting the sale of alcohol, groceries, convenience goods and other uses within Class A1 was anti-competitive. The landlord justified the clause by relying upon its letting scheme for the parade of shops of which the tenant's unit formed part.
The Judge ruled that the clause was anti-competitive because it provided a means of eliminating competition in convenience goods on the parade and within a relatively short walking distance. The Judge added that, had the relevant market been geographically bigger so as to include other convenience stores, there would have been no possibility of elimination of competition.
Two points should be noted:
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