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restrictive trade practices

Arrangements in industry designed to maintain high prices or earnings or to exclude outsiders from a trade or profession. Examples include *resale price maintenance contracts, agreements between manufacturers to restrict output so that demand remains unsatisfied and a high price is maintained, similar agreements concerning the provision of services, and rules restricting entry to a trade or profession. Under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976, certain types of restrictive agreement are presumed to be against the public interest (and therefore void) unless they are first registered with the *Director General of Fair Trading and then justified to the *Restrictive Practices Court. The Court can declare whether or not an agreement is contrary to the public interest and make orders restraining the parties from giving effect to it and from making a new similar agreement. It can also decide whether or not goods of any particular class should be exempt from the statutory prohibition on resale price maintenance.

Agreements that are important to the national economy or hold down prices may be exempted by the Secretary of State. The provision of certain services (including legal, dental, educational, surveying, and medical and related services) are exempt under the Act, as are ministers of religion and certain exclusive dealings and 'know-how' agreements.

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