Exchanges of information are a complex area of competition law. Analysis of such exchanges, which aims at identifying a risk of tacit coordination between competitors, depends on multiple factors and is difficult to systemize. Among the variety of criteria taken into account for such assessment, the “time factor” plays a decisive role in various respects. First, determining whether the information exchanged is past or current, is key in assessing the degree of risk and the applicable legal framework. Second, market cycles and the frequency of exchanges have varying degrees of impact as to the likelihood that coordination has occurred, as well as with respect to the duration and effects of such coordination. Two recent decisions, one by the General Court (GC) in the powerchips cartel case, and the other by the French competition authority (FCA) in the vehicle rental sector, provide a good illustration of the test followed by the authorities in this respect.
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