Austria: Constitutional Court upholds ban on 'best price' clauses for online hotel booking portals

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

Effecitve by January 1, 2017, an amendment to the Austrian Unfair Competition Act (UWG) introduced a ban on 'best price' clauses for hotel booking portals. These clauses were qualified as an agressive business practice. According to such clauses, a hotel operator who wanted to sell rooms through online portals had to accept not to offer these rooms for a lower price or at more favourable conditions though any other distribution channel including the hotel's own website.

Booking.com challenged this law before the Constitutional Court, arguing it would interfere with the right to property as guaranteed by the Austrian constitution, be inappropriate and not be serving purposes of public interest. However, the Constitutional Court (VfGH) dismissed the complaint and held that the interference with the right to property was jusitfied by the public interest in a fair competition between hotel operators and booking platforms. Moreover, it would serve the interest of the consumers which prevailed over the booking platform's frreedom to make contractual agreements.

A similar complaint, filed by Expedia was dismissed with reference to the Booking.com judgment.

Source: VfGH press release of Oct. 17, 2017

Full text of judgement G 44-45/2017-9 of Oct. 17, 2017 available (in German language)  here>>.

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