On 5 October 2018, the Competition College (Mededingingscollege/Collège de la concurrence) of the Belgian Competition Authority ("BCA") rejected a request to suspend the participation rules for horse-jumping events organised by Global Champions Tour ("GCT").
The decision by the BCA is the latest development in a legal saga surrounding the Belgian equestrian sector.
Following a complaint by Global Champions League ("GCL") to the BCA, alleging that the exclusivity clause included in the General Regulations of the Fédération Equestre Internationale ("FEI"), the governing body for horse-jumping, was anticompetitive, the BCA imposed interim measures temporarily suspending the exclusivity clause on 27 July 2015 (See this Newsletter, Volume 2015, No. 7 available at www.vbb.com). This decision was upheld by the Brussels Court of Appeal on 28 April 2016 (See this Newsletter, Volume 2016, No. 5 available at www.vbb.com).
In January 2017, GCL, GCT and FEI announced they had reached a settlement, documented in a memorandum of understanding ("MoU"), pursuant to which the FEI approved the GCL events, the parties agreed on participation rules for GCL and GCT events and GCL withdrew its complaint to the BCA.
On 13 November 2017, a Dutch horse rider based in Belgium and a horse riding stable established in Belgium lodged a new complaint with the BCA criticising the new GCT participation rules, as laid down in the MoU, for being anticompetitive.
Consequently, the BCA imposed interim measures on GCL, GCT and the FEI on 20 December 2017 (See this Newsletter, Volume 2017, No. 12 available at www.vbb.com ) and penalty payments on 13 April 2018 (See this Newsletter, Volume 2018, No. 4 available at www.vbb.com). However, on...