On October 26, 2020, the Competition Authority informed the accused parties of its decision to close, of its own initiative, the graded hotel sector case in La Réunion, relating to information exchanges between hotelkeepers within the UHR union (Union des Hôteliers de La Réunion). Within a very tight timeframe of 2 months, the professional association and the businesses in question succeeded in convincing the Competition board that there was insufficient evidence to establish the existence of any practice that was anticompetitive.
The Competition Authority notably concluded that the evidence collected during the investigation “did not make it possible to establish, to the requisite legal standard, the existence of collusion between the hotelkeepers”.
In view of the characteristics of the hotel market on the island of La Réunion, the Competition Authority considered that the information exchanges in question did not have the effect of reducing the level of uncertainty regarding the functioning of the market nor of weakening the autonomy of the hotelkeepers in establishing their commercial policy.
Unlike the so-called “Palaces Parisiens” case (2005) which saw several establishments convicted, the Competition Authority's decision shows that information exchanges on historical data relating to average prices per room and occupancy rates does not characterise a restriction of competition and that establishing a restriction of competition by effect necessarily depends on the characteristics of the market, in particular how concentrated it is and the homogeneity of the offering, which were lacking in this case.
The Iloha Seaview Hôtel and Palm Hôtel & Spa were represented by Baker McKenzie with partner, Léna Sersiron and associate, Laurie Camus.
The firms RBB Economics (Laure Schulz) and Extent Economics (Romain de Nijs) also worked on the economic aspects of the case, in support of the hotel establishments cited.