Penningtons lends a hand to the NBA

CITY firm Penningtons has helped to ensure that the Net Book Agreement (NBA) will survive in Europe.

The European Court of Justice last week reversed the European Commission decision in 1988 which prevented UK

publishers from setting minimum prices for UK books that were sold in other European Union states.

The Booksellers Association, which was represented by Penningtons, intervened in support of the Publishers' Association's appeal to the European Court against the commission's original refusal to grant an exemption for the agreement under Article 85(3) of the Treaty of Rome.

Penningtons litigation partner Michael Nathanson praised the perseverance of the legal teams involved, in particular leading competition barrister Jeremy Lever QC, and hailed the court's decision as “a major victory” for all supporters of the NBA, both in the EU and in the UK.

He says: “It represents the culmination of many years of negotiation with the commission by the Publishers Association and adjudication in the European Courts.”

Nathanson says that the commission is now unlikely to refuse an exemption for the NBA in future. He adds: “It may well be that this ruling will have some bearing on the Restrictive Practices Court's consideration of the NBA should it be referred there by the Office of Fair Trading.”