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Online hotel portal HRS's 'best price' clause violates competition law – Proceedings also initiated against other hotel portals

Date of issue: 20.12.2013

Bonn, 20 December 2013: Today the Bundeskartellamt prohibited HRS from continuing to apply its 'best price' clause (most favoured nation clause) and ordered the company to delete it from its contracts and general terms and conditions by 1 March 2014 as far as the clause affects hotels in Germany.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "Only at first view do most favoured customer clauses used by online booking portals seem to benefit consumers. Ultimately the clauses prevent the offer of lower hotel prices elsewhere. Most favoured customer clauses thus restrict competition between existing online portals. Moreover, they make the market entry of new platforms considerably more difficult because they prevent new platforms from offering hotel rooms at lower prices. For these reasons we have now also initiated proceedings against the online hotel portals Booking and Expedia because of similar clauses in their hotel contracts.”

The most favoured customer clauses in the contracts concluded between the HRS online platform and its hotel partners oblige the hotels to always offer their lowest room price, maximum room capacity and most favourable booking and cancellation conditions available on the Internet also via the HRS portal. Since March 2012 the hotels are even prohibited from offering guests better conditions if they book in directly at the hotel's reception desk.

HRS may file an appeal against the order with the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court and apply for interim relief against the immediate enforceability of the order. The proceedings against Booking and Expedia were initiated because the contracts concluded by these companies with hotel partners contain similar clauses.

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