COMPETITION • FRENCH LAW • FIELD OF APPLICATION
Article L. 410-1 of the Commercial Code provides that the rules of competition apply to “all production, distribution and service activities, including those carried out by public entities”. It covers all production, distribution and service activities, without exception, whenever the product or service concerned is offered on the market. As a result, intermediary acts are not subject to the competition rules. Thus, when an operator has recourse to third parties to perform a service that is part of its own activity, the activity concerned is not subject to the rules of competition.
The fact that there are specific rules for specific sectors does not mean that those sectors are not also subject to competition law. Anticompetitive practices in the banking, movie distribution or radio and television sectors cannot escape review by the Competition Authority, which has total jurisdiction in such matters. The competition authorities consider that the concept of “production, distribution and service” activities, mentioned in Article L. 410-1 of the Commercial Code, is not the same thing as the concept of for-profit activities which means that complementary health insurance bodies are subject to scrutiny by the Competition Authority for their purely economic activities. Nevertheless, schemes based on the principle of solidarity and subject to state control are not subject to competition law.
Finally, the competition rules are applicable to public bodies not only when they behave like private operators, but also when – irrespective of what they are – their acts have an impact on the exercise of production, distribution or service activities.