Wouters et.al. v. Algemene Raad van de Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten
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Judgement date :19/02/2002
Professional body - National Bar - Regulation by the Bar of the exercise of the profession - Prohibition of multi-disciplinary partnerships between members of the Bar and accountants - Article 85 of the EC Treaty - Association of undertakings - Restriction of competition - Article 86 of the EC Treaty - Undertaking or group of undertakings - Articles 52 and 59 of the EC Treaty - Applicability - Restrictions - Justification
Even in situations where genuinely self-employed persons could be considered as undertakings for the purpose of Article 101(1) TFEU, competition law may still allow such persons to bargain collectively or enjoy terms and conditions obtained through collective bargaining. As held by the CJEU in Wouters , “not every agreement between undertakings or every decision of an association of undertakings which restricts the freedom of action of the parties or of one of them necessarily falls within the prohibition laid down in [Article 101(1) TFEU]. For the purposes of application of that provision to a particular case, account must first of all be taken of the overall context in which the decision of the association of undertakings was taken or produces its effects. More particularly, account must be taken of its objectives, which are here connected with the need to make rules relating to organisation, qualifications, professional ethics, supervision and liability” (§ 97).