Belgium: Brussels Court Of Appeal Confirms Suspension Of Exclusivity Clause In International Show-Jumping Rules

On 28 April 2016, the Brussels Court of Appeal (the "Court") confirmed the decision of the Belgian Competition Authority (Belgische Mededingingsautoriteit / Autorité belge de la Concurrence) ("BCA") concerning the suspension of an exclusivity clause contained in the rules of the Fédération Equestre Internationale ("FEI") preventing horse riders from participating in show-jumping competitions which were not approved by the FEI.

At the request of Global Champions League ("GCL") and Tops Trading Belgium ("TTB"), the Competition College (Mededingingscollege / Collège de la concurrence) of the BCA decided on 27 July 2015 to suspend the exclusivity clause contained in FEI's international show-jumping rules until the BCA had taken a decision on the merits of the case. This clause prevents horses and athletes from competing in FEI approved events if they participated in a non-approved event over the previous six months. The BCA considered that this suspension was necessary in order to make it possible to organise the 2016 Global Champions League (See, VBB on Business Law, Volume 2015, No. 7, p. 4, available at ).

FEI sought both the suspension and the annulment of this decision before the Brussels Court of Appeal. In its judgment of 22 October 2015, the Court dismissed FEI's request for suspension on the basis that it had not been established that the interim measures adopted by the BCA would cause "serious prejudice which would be difficult to remedy" to FEI (See, VBB on Business Law, Volume 2015, No. 11, p. 6, available at

The judgment of 28 April 2016 was handed down further to FEI's request for the annulment of the interim measures. In this judgment, the Court confirmed the validity of the suspension decided by the BCA.

First, the Court dismissed FEI's claim that the European Commission should have been informed earlier of the investigation, since Article 11 of EC Regulation 1/2003 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 101 and 102 TFEU Treaty does not impose any strict deadline. The Court also rejected FEI's argument that the BCA did not have jurisdiction to impose interim measures whose scope extends to 8 EU Member States and 5 non-EU countries. The Court recalled that national competition authorities apply not only national competition laws but also European competition law. In addition, the exclusivity clause suspended by the BCA is sufficiently linked to the Belgian territory for the BCA to consider itself "well placed" to act, pursuant to the European Commission Notice on the cooperation within the network of competition authorities of 2004.

The Court furthermore rejected FEI's allegation that its rights of defence had been breached. Notably, the Court recalled that the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply to this case, since the decision contested by FEI does not impose any administrative sanction of a criminal nature.

On the substance of the case, the Court found that the BCA rightly considered that the exclusivity clause had, prima facie, anticompetitive effects as it excluded horse riders from FEI competitions for a duration of at least six months (sometimes even longer in practice). The Court found that this anticompetitive effect is, prima facie, contrary to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU and Articles IV.1 and IV.2 of the Code of Economic Law (Wetboek van Economisch Recht / Code de droit économique). While the Court considered that FEI's alleged objective to protect the health of horses and the integrity of show-jumping could be legitimate, the Court noted that FEI is in a conflict of interest situation, as it both regulates international show-jumping and promotes commercial show-jumping events. The Court also underlined that the exclusivity clause had restrictive effects and could only be lifted under exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of FEI, which does not have to base its decision on any objective criterion.

In addition, the Court considered that the BCA had adequately explained the seriousness of the injury suffered by the GCL and TTB, noting that GCL events had to be cancelled in 2014 and 2015. The Court also confirmed that such injury was imminent, linked to the exclusivity clause, and would be difficult to compensate, in accordance with Article IV.64 (1) of the Code of Economic Law.

Finally, the Court considered that the suspension of the exclusivity clause decided by the BCA met the urgency requirement set out in Article IV.64(1) of the Code of Economic Law. The Court found that the fact that GCL and TTB only requested the suspension of the exclusivity clause in June 2015 did not infer that their request was not urgent, since they were trying to organise GCL in 2016. The Court also noted that the fact that GCL and TTB had first tried to find common ground with FEI, instead of immediately attacking the exclusivity clause when it entered into force in 2012, could not be criticised.

As a result of this judgment, the suspension of FEI's exclusivity clause will remain in force until the BCA decides otherwise (or until the BCA adopts a final decision on the substance of the case). FEI can still decide to appeal the judgment of the Court to the Supreme Court (Hof van Cassatie / Cour de cassation) on points of law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions