Property Market II

In April, we discussed the first reported case on the application of the UK competition rules to land agreements (Martin Retail Group Ltd v Crawley Borough Council). In that case the Central London County Court struck down a proposed restriction which would have prevented the sale of groceries, fresh food, beer, wine, spirits and other household products by Martin Retail (best known as a newsagents and tobacconist).

The Council, which sought to impose the restrictions, conceded that they would restrict competition, but argued that the local community benefitted from the range of traders and retail outlets in the shopping parade and claimed that smaller businesses would be less likely to take a lease of premises in a parade where their trade was not protected, i.e. there were countervailing benefits which outweighed the anticompetitive effects.

The Court was not satisfied that the distribution of goods was improved, or economic progress promoted, through the existence of a number of different retailers rather than via a supermarket or a number of similar retailers. The proposed restriction clearly provided a means of eliminating competition in convenience goods on the parade. On that basis, the judge agreed with the tenant that the proposed...

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