Distribution and branding

We advise on

  • whether a proposed distribution, franchise or marketing arrangement could cause competition problems;
  • how best to structure agreements to fall within exemptions or safe harbours provided by EU or UK law; and
  • the likelihood of competition risk from existing arrangements

Competition law will not restrict your normal sales activities in a competitive market, but if you try to rely on restrictive practices to increase prices or – possibly – exclude competitors from a particular market or segment, you may be running a competition risk. Our aim is to meet your marketing and sales objectives as closely as possible whilst reducing this risk to acceptable levels.You should think about asking us to help if your distribution strategy includes non-compete terms or other territorial, field of use or quantity restrictions. Similarly, if you rely on exclusive pricing provisions or targeted most-favoured customer clauses to exclude a competitive threat, you may find your practices subject to scrutiny.

Ensuring competition compliance in distribution as well as safeguarding your branding is perhaps most important in the area of internet selling. Our partners have significant expertise and experience in industries where internet distribution is important.


  • advising a well-known luxury brand holder on the competition law implications of selective distribution and the implications of the new EU vertical guidance on restrictions in on-line selling;
  • assessed and re- structured the EMEA partnership distribution arrangements for a global software company and providing competition compliance procedures and training for their EMEA legal team;
  • developed an on-line distribution and pricing strategy for a major international on-line retailer including how EU competition law can affect agreements concluded in the US.

Latest news

  • Sheppard│Co wins Antitrust and Competition Law Firm of the Year 2015 UK by Finance Monthly (January 2015)
  • Sheppard│Co wins Regulatory Law Firm of the Year 2015 by Corporate LiveWire (May 2015)
  • Sheppard│Co sets up the Competition Damages Unit (CDU) and Competition Damages Fund (CDF) with finance from DCLG and in collaboration with CIPFA to bring competition damages claims on behalf of the public sector (February 2015)