Antitrust Advisory’s experts represented the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers in a high-profile case against Booking.com, which has been deemed abusing its dominant position
In December 2020, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (‘FAS’) completed its consideration of an antimonopoly case and ruled that Booking.com (an accommodation booking service operated by Booking.com BV) had abused its dominant position. One of the complainants in this case was the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers, the interests of which were represented by Antitrust Advisory.
The regulator determined that Booking.com B.V. had imposed unfavourable contractual terms on Russian hotels that required them to provide it with certain information and comply with price parity and room availability clauses in all the sales and distribution channels. Therefore, both ‘wide’ and ‘narrow’ parity clauses were investigated in this case.
The regulator ruled that such clauses had restricted competition in the market and infringed the hotels’ interests. The case involved the use of the antitrust expertise of the highest quality and raised a number of complex legal and economic issues.
Booking.com decided to appeal the regulator’s decision and prescription to the court. The Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers represented by Antitrust Advisory also participated in this court case. On 30 August 2021, the Moscow Arbitration Court rejected the company’s appeal and upheld the Federal Antimonopoly Service’s decision against Booking.com.
Apart from issuing a prescription, FAS imposed on Booking.com a turnover fine of RUB 1.3 billion in August 2021. It is particularly remarkable that the Russian case against Booking.com is one of the many cases reviewed by European and other competition authorities.