Daniel Sokol ‘Troubled Waters Between U.S. and European Antitrust’

This is an article-length review of The Atlantic Divide in Antitrust: An Examination of US and EU Competition Policy by Daniel J. Gifford and Robert T. Kudrle, a book on the differences between EU and American antitrust. It was published in the Michigan Law Review, and can be found at https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol115/iss6/10/. The review is interesting because: (I) it provides an overview of the book and its arguments, which is quite useful; (II) it describes how the different goals of antitrust and institutional framework on both sides of the pond lead to different enforcement priorities and allocation of powers to enforcement agencies; (iii) it assesses in some detail how single firm conduct is differently pursued on both sides of the Atlantic; and (iv) it compares different enforcement practices regarding cartels in Europe and the US. The main argument of both the book and the article is that: “With its steadfast economic focus, antitrust in the United States has a clear goal. In…

Giorgio Monti and Goncalo Banha Coelho ‘Geo-Blocking Between Competition Law And Regulation’

This paper – available at https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/geo-blocking-between-competition-law-and-regulation – looks at the European Commission’s initiative to prevent geo-blocking. As I understand it, this is a short version of a larger report requested by the European institutions. Geo-blocking refers to those practices by sellers which make it costly or impossible for consumers with residence in one Member State to obtain goods and services from other Member States. They also include the rerouting of customers away from websites hosted in other Member States to a website hosted in the Member State from where they are based (e.g. customers in Italy rerouted from a “.pt” version of an online store to its “.it” version), without their consent. The paper begins with a review of the main rules in European Competition law devoted to the prevention of restrictions to cross-border competition – which cover mainly contractual restrictions to this type of trade (Art. 101 TFEU) or abuse of dominant position (Art. 102 TFEU). However, no rules…

Ajinkya M. Tulpule ‘Compliance And Enforcement in a Blockchain(ed) World’

This paper,  by a senior staff member of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, is the first attempt I know of to address the implications of the blockchain for competition law. It can be found here: https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/compliance-and-enforcement-in-a-blockchained-world/ The paper first defines key terms to ensure that the reader understands the main concepts related to the blockchain, which are obscure to the uninitiated – concepts such as “distributed ledger”, ‘smart contract”, and, let’s be honest, “blockchain”. A second section then lists the potential benefits of blockchain technologies in the enforcement of competition law. According to the author, the most pertinent utility of a blockchain in competition enforcement is likely to be related to obtaining and processing large volumes of transactional and non-transactional data – which can be relevant for merger control, cartel investigations and, at a minimum, for monitoring commitments in abuse of dominance matters. The third and last section is devoted to the potential of the blockchain for the implementation of competition…

Francisco Costa-Cabral, Orla Lynskey, ‘Family ties: The intersection between data protection and competition in EU law’

This article – published in (2017) Common Market Law Review 54 11 – looks at the relationship between privacy and competition law (in the EU). The authors state that, instead of getting into a discussion of whether public policy considerations regarding data privacy should be considered as part of consumer welfare, they are looking instead at the elective affinities between privacy and competition law. Curiously, they seem to reach a conclusion related to competition assessment (i.e. the impact of data protection on consumer welfare): “data protection conditions offered to individuals can reflect the parameters of quality, choice, and innovation” The paper makes two primary arguments:  that data protection law– a framework designed to identify and achieve an optimal level of personal data protection – can provide the normative guidance that competition law lacks in relation to non-price competitive parameters;  it develops a normative benchmark to assess whether certain competition law commitments and remedies should be accepted. The structure of the paper…

Massimo Motta and Chiara Fumagalli ‘On the use of price-cost tests in loyalty discounts and exclusive dealing arrangements: Which implications from economic theory should be drawn?;

You can find this paper in (2017) Antitrust Law Journal, 81(2): 537–85. The paper looks at  loyalty rebates and the use of price cost tests. It begins by describing recent European and American case law on the matter, and highlights differences in the judicial approaches on both sides of the Atlantic (i.e. the classic distinction between European formalism and American effects-based tests). The authors then distinguish between economic tests of predation and exclusionary rebates, while noting that both include common economic mechanisms that can involve sacrificing profits.In the last and most important section, they argue that rebates and contracts containing conditions regarding how much buyers purchase from rival suppliers can raise serious anti-competitive concerns. From this point of view, a stricter treatment of exclusive contracts and some loyalty discounts might be justified – which may imply that evidence of above-cost prices may work as a safe harbour for predation, but not for exclusive dealing and loyalty rebates. Overall, I think…

Maurice E. Stucke ‘Reconsidering Antitrust’s Goals’

This is a more recent paper to the ABA one identified in the post below, which has the advantage of also being an analytical / critical piece. To be clear, I do not necessarily support or condone the criticisms set out in the paper – but I do like how his analysis makes one think about what antitrust should be about. The article can be found at http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol53/iss2/4/. While mainly focused on the US, the paper is interesting for its (critical) description of how our current understanding of antitrust as being mainly devoted to promoting consumer welfare and efficiency came about (interesting tidbit: before 1975, the US Supreme Court had never mentioned “consumer welfare” in an antitrust case); and of how this “official” understanding conflicts with the proliferation of antitrust goals to be found in laws across the world (which leads to a useful review of such antitrust goals, mainly relying on ICN work). The critical part is also interesting for…

Herbert Hovenkamp ‘The Rule of Reason’

This paper by Hovenkamp – available at https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.fr/&httpsredir=1&article=2780&context=faculty_scholarship – on the US rule of reason. It describes the historical background for the development of the rule of reason and its procedural requirements in US litigation.  It is short, very thorough, very opinionated, and should interesting to anyone interested on the basic underpinnings of competition law analysis (even if one is not a US antitrust lawyer). The paper covers a lot of ground, including: the trade-off between consumer and general welfare as antitrust standards;  different modes of analysis of antitrust infringements (e.g. per se, rule of reason and “quick look”); how to balance pro- and anti-competitive effects;  the shifting role of the per se prohibitions and rule of reason (i.e. a trend over the last 40 years towards reducing the role for per se rules as antitrust enforcement has focused more and more on the effect of individual business practices); and the main practical difficulties in applying the concepts underpinning a rule-of-reason analysis. While…

Giancarlo Spagnolo and Catarina Marvão ‘Cartels and Leniency: Taking stock of what we learnt’

This paper, available at https://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/hasite/0039.html, reviews the literature on the incentives of leniency applicants.  It is a really useful piece for anyone doing leniency work, and extremely thorough. It is not possible to  provide a summary of the paper: it reviews too many papers and possible scenarios (the first section looks at economic models, the second at empirical evidence). If there is a basic argument underpinning all of this, it seems to be that incentives to increase cartel enforcement results may not be well-aligned with maximising welfare /  may lead to excessively generous leniency conditions; and that leniency reduces collusion but that the EU is too nice to cartelists and extends leniency to far too many companies.

Elisabeth de Ghellinck ‘The As-Efficient-Competitor Test

This paper, published in the Journal of European Competition Law & Practice and available at https://academic.oup.com/jeclap/article-abstract/7/8/544/2194480, looks at the as efficient competitor test (known as AEC by its acquaintances) – the economic test that refuses to come to life (and God knows that some have tried to breathe life into it). After the European Commission tried to make this test the cornerstone of its enforcement activities on abusive practices (in its Guidance on Enforcement Priorities for Exclusionary Practices), and the European Courts first dismissed the relevance of the test in virtually all scenarios (Post Danmark II) before saying that it may actually be useful under certain circumstances (Intel), we have this piece is by an economist trying to identify when the test can be useful. A number of conclusions are reached, in particular:  it is sensible to decide that an AEC test is not a prerequisite for establishing the abusive character of a retroactive rebate scheme, since such a test can only…

Frederic Jenny ‘Abuse of dominance by firms charging excessive or unfair prices: an assessment’

This is a paper by Fred Jenny  for the Israeli competition authority on excessive pricing – the competition law infraction that refuses to die, and is arguably making a comeback. The paper can be found at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2880382. It reviews the debate that has taken place among economists on what the definition of excessive prices could be and whether the control of excessive prices by competition authorities would in fact promote or discourage competition. The paper is structured as follows: Section I takes stock of the enforcement activities of competition authorities against high prices (or the lack of enforcement) in a number of countries; Section II analyses the general arguments in favour or against the enforcement of provisions sanctioning excessive pricing abuses by dominant companies or monopolies; Section III examines the risks associated with wrongful decisions by competition authorities in this area and the cost of such errors; Section IV analyses the economic screens which have been proposed by various economists to…