COMPETITION • FRENCH LAW • Restrictive agreements

The conditions for obtaining a label or a certification are likely to constitute a barrier to entry. Applying a rule of reason, the Competition Authority deems  agreements relating to standards or certification not contrary to Article L. 420-1 of the Commercial Code if the conditions for obtaining them are such as to guarantee the competence of the applicant undertakings without going beyond what is strictly necessary for that guarantee.

Provided that the selection method is based on objective criteria of a qualitative nature and applied in a non-discriminatory manner and is not used to prevent market access or to artificially restrict supply so as to limit price competition, the conditions for joining a label certification body are legitimate from a competitive point of view. Likewise, a certification body must, without fear of reproach for exceeding the limits of its mission of seeking to improve quality, be able to carry out quality tests even though it is not authorized to do so by its internal rules, since the certification granted on the basis of an undertaking’s professional competencies cannot be effective without verification of the quality of the products used.