Latest Briefings

AI – Commission publishes new legal framework

I wrote last autumn about the European Parliament’s approval of proposals for the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), and the European Commission has now decisively picked up the legislative baton, publishing its comprehensive framework for an AI Regulation.

Replacing the vertical agreements block exemption: approaching a year to go

On 31 May 2021, the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation (VBER), which exempts certain agreements from the EU and UK prohibitions on anti-competitive agreements, enters its final year of service before its scheduled expiry at the end of May 2022. Both the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the European Commission (EC) have begun consultations on whether to replace the current instrument and its accompanying guidelines and, if so, how the replacements can tackle some of their predecessors’ shortcomings.

Tech time out – health is wealth

Neil Lloyd, managing director at law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, set up Tech Time Out with Stephanie Henson last year after noticing that a lot of noise was being made about the amount of time people were spending on tech, and certainly, COVID just made it worse.

Austria: Supreme Court rules on long-term gas supply contracts

On 25 January 2021 the Supreme Court issued a decision on long-term contracts for the import of Russian natural gas into Austria (16 Ok 3/20g). The contracts had been concluded in 2006 for the supply of unstructured natural gas. All of the contracts expired on 31 December 2027. At the time of their conclusion, such long-term commitments were common for contracts between natural gas producers and importers or wholesalers throughout Europe. The contracts contained an obligation for customers to purchase 83% of the contract volume (at least in the medium term), even if this amount was not actually taken (take-or-pay clause). In 2011 one of the buyers was granted an early termination right.

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