Archive for the ‘Our Publications’ Category
- Fresh off the Court. This morning the ECJ handed down a Judgment in which it has ruled that the Court itself is not supposed to reduce the fine imposed on a company whenever judicial review by the General Court exceeds a reasonable time. This Judgment effectively and explicitly overrules the Baustahlgewebe Judgment, in which the ECJ had followed the opposite (and in my view much more reasonable approach). Today’s Judgment is premised on the idea that an application for damages brought against the EU would in all circumstances constitute an effective remedy to compensate for any damages caused by the GC’s failure to adjudicate within a reasonable time.
For those of you with less background on general EU law, actions for damages against the EU shall be brought before the General Court. In other words, parties who believe that the duration of proceedings before the General Court was excessively lenghtly should, by means of a different application, ask the General Court itself to ascertain whether its own behavior was appropriate in the light of the circumstances specific to the case and whether the parties suffered any harm. Good luck with that…
- Save the date! On February 7th and 8th AIJA [Association Internationale de Jeunes Avocats) (a generous institution according to which lawyers below 45 qualify as young] will be holding a two-day conference in Bruges under the title “Competition Law 2.0- Competition Law and Technology“. A not-to-be-missed excuse to
spend part of the weekend in Bruges and pay a visit to the greatest beer bar ever discuss hot topics in current antitrust. Both Prof. Petit and myself will be speaking there.
- Speaking of current antitrust debates: the last number of the Journal of European Competition Law and Practice (a great journal that has rightly earned a prominent place in a saturated? market) features various very good articles, including one by our guest blogger Pablo Ibañez on State aid litigation. At another level, it also features a brief piece of mine [the hyperlink only leads to the abstract] about Google’s commitments (you already know my views). Ironically, my comment was written in relation to the first version of the commitments but features in the “current intelligence” section of the journal. Fortunately I did explicitly envisage “likely further tweaks over specific details” and all comments are applicable to the new (leaked) proposal.
Then the Antitrust Writing Award (thanks, btw, to the campaign I so well managed… ; see here).
And now (actually, last Saturday) Nico got the “Prix du livre juridique” to the best legal book published in France (see here), for his new textbook Droit européen de la concurrence.
The prize was awarded at the Constitutional Court in Paris; prestigious setting for a prestigious prize (see pic above; in case you were wondering, Nicolas is the one posing).
Judging by his mother’s comment on his Facebook wall, the prize has made the family happy. You know, there haven’t been so many ocassions to feel proud of the chap
Congrats to Nico for the prize and for his contribution to spreading the competition gospel in France. Hopefully new generations of French will gain a better understanding of competition law and,
unlike the jury in this case, will be able to tell what’s sound legal competition reasoning and what’s not !
P.S. Contrary to what you might think, I’m not writing this simply to promote my co-blogger’s achievement. I’m doing it because the a****** said he won’t give me a free copy, so I’m hoping that some advertisement will earn me one from the publisher.
As long anticipated, here are some comments on the proposed commitments in the Google case (I graciously granted myself an extension, like the one other third parties have received; it actually is convenient because I can comment on others’ comments as well).
Four caveats are in order:
- The views expressed below are written against the background of the Commission’s concerns as set out in the press release and the Q&A doc. accompanying the market testing of Google’s proposal. The relevant question to keep in mind is whether the proposed commitments –in their current form- are apt to address the concerns identified by the Commission in its preliminary assessment, not whether they are apt to lead to candy world for satisfy the wishes of all third parties.
- My views are necessarily incomplete and they’re also work in progress. I’ve only read the limited publicly available information and have not had access to any confidential info or documents that might be contained in the case-file. Moreover, I have allocated two flights time to draft this (and I should ideally also do some billable work, you see), so I’ll (i) update and improve this document on the basis of any new thoughts or possible feedback and (ii) refine my thoughts for a forthcoming piece on Oxford’s Journal of Competition Law and Practice
- My views are mine (sounds like a tautology, but don’t always take this for granted in our area of work…); some of my colleagues and clients may well have different opinions.
- I haven’t worked nor for Google nor for any of the 17 complainants.
In case I haven’t yet got you tired before even starting, here is a methodological explanation. This will be a five-pronged analysis; I will very succinctly summarize (i) DG Comp’s concerns; (ii) my take on the substantive concerns; (iii) the content of the proposed commitments; (iv) third-party criticism of the proposal (notably that read here, here, here or here) (I actually read some favorable comments as well); and (v) my take on the proposed commitments. And this for each of the four concerns flagged by the Commission (although only the two first ones raise interesting issues).
The structure will make this post longer. In order not to cram the page, click if interested.
As some of you may remember, a few months ago I wrote a post here on “Antitrust and Political Stupidity“. Competition Policy International asked me to develop the post for a special issue of the Antitrust Chronicle, which I did one-handedly during my extended Christmas break (the paper is available here). I was then asked to do a follow-up interview with CPI; the interview was published today (click here for the version in CPI’s web).
Asked about whether I was being too optmistic in the paper, I started my response saying that “my paper was written during the Christmas break, and it is not much more than a Christmas tale, a superficial exercise of wishful thinking” (see below for the complete answer). Little did I know that the mailing that was sent today to some thousands of people would summarize the interview saying that: “Lamadrid says his paper is ‘a superficial exercise of wishful thinking,’ and he tells CPI why“. So, here I am, promoting my work by saying that it’s really not any good (between us: it’s not a masterpice, but it’s somehow original and maybe not as crappy as my own quote suggests…). Man do I really need to work on my self-selling skills….
If anyone’s interested, you can click here to read the full interview:
Many of you have probably had a chance to read various texts on the goals of competition law (the one in Giorgio Monti’s book is particularly good; more recently, I also liked Kevin Coates’ approach).
For an original approach to this discussion, check out Maurice Stucke’s recent paper “Should Competition Policy Promote Happiness?” As noted in the abstract, the paper builds on recent academic literature on happiness and goes on to argue that “competition policy in a post-industrial wealthy country would get more bang (in terms of increased well-being) in promoting economic, social and democratic values, rather than simply promoting a narrowly-defined consumer welfare objective“,
Many thanks to Wouter Wils for the pointer!
P.S. And speaking of papers, Pablo Ibañez, Hans Zenger and myself could use some additional votes for Concurrence’s Antitrust Writing Awards
Last Friday I was invited to speak on these issues at a GCLC lunch talk on “
I might develop the content of my presentation in a series of forthcoming posts, but today we’ll simply provide you with the presentations projected at the lunch talk.
I had the impression that the audience was a bit surprised at my rather unusual power point, which you can see here:
GCLC_Google_Lamadrid (looks better if you play the slide show; also, it’s password protected, so click “read-only”).
As I explained at the event, I decided to run the risk of projecting this ppp when I learnt that Google had pledged before the FTC not to ask for injunctions aimed at protecting its intellectual property ;) Actually, I’m much more scared of my firm’s format-strict marketing department….
P.S. A necessary and fair disclosure. The power point I had in mind became real thanks to Enrique Colmenero, a terribly nice and smart guy, a techie and an entrepeneur who is now fortunately working with me on a few tech-related cases.
(Since this post is about awards, we thought a pic form last night’s grammys ceremony would be appropriate. I randomly came accross this one, but it risked being inappropriate, so we’ve decided to go for a more politically correct one).
This year the Editorial Committee at Concurrences has shortlisted 3 pieces written by people who have contributed to this blog, so we thought we’d ask you to please take a minute to give them your 5-star vote
The nominees are:
- On the category for Academic paper on Anticompetitive Practices: Pablo Ibañez Colomo (LSE), for Market Failures, Transaction Costs and Article 101(1) TFEU Case Law, You can read it and vote for it at: http://awards.concurrences.com/academic-articles-awards/article/market-failures-transaction-costs By the way, Pablo gave a lecture on this topic at the IEB in Madrid a few days ago; the slides are available here: Making sense of Article 101 TFEU
- On the category for Academic papers on Economics: Hans Zenger (CRA) for Loyalty Rebates and the Competitive Process : You can read it and vote for it at: http://awards.concurrences.com/academic-articles-awards/article/loyalty-rebates-and-the
- On the category for Business papers on Economics, myself, for Economics in competition law, You can read it and vote for it at (no need to read this one, you can skip it provided that you vote for it): http://awards.concurrences.com/business-articles-awards/article/economics-in-competition-law (actually, the nominated post does not rank among the ones I’m proudest of, but I’m nevertheless grateful for the nomination).
- We are told that Chillin’Competition has also been shortlisted as one of the top 30 professional publications that will be reviewed by Concurrence’s editorial board, which will then come up with a ranking (for more info, click here). You cannot vote for us here, but we’d be thankful if you could please exert any sort of coercion on the jury
A few weeks ago I published a post called “Antitrust and political imbecility“. The raw ideas in it had been in my mind for a while, but conscious that I would likely not take the time to refine them, I chose to publish them on this blog with the hope that they would benefit from public discussion. I wasn’t particularly proud of this post, but Lindsay Mcsweeney (Competition Policy International) thought it was original and asked me to develop it for a special issue of CPI’s Antitrust Chronicle to be published right after Christmas. I accepted thinking that it would only take a few hours of my holidays; little did I know that I would break my arm and go through some pains to finish it! (btw, I’m back on track as of today). In any event, and thanks to Lindays’s
pressure encouragement, it’s done.
Those interested in reading my take on why antitrust law can be regarded as sensible centrist economic policy can do so here. Non-CPI suscribers can read it here (courtersy of CPI): Antitrust and the political center-
Any critical feedback would be most welcome!
Competition law blogs are mushrooming. This means that Chillin’Competition is now subject to intense competitive pressure, and that Lindsey McSweeny will start having problems to pick the monthly posts for CPI’s Blogs o’ Blogs.
Some of you might remember that when Nico falsely announced that we were done with Chillin’Competition a new blog called Chilled Competition was rapidly created. Its first (and only) post was entitled “Low barriers to entry”. And it was very right: ayone can enter this market; in fact, as you will see below there are already a few entrants challenging incumbents.
- Kartellblog. We have the intuition that it’s a great blog. Unfortunately we cannot confirm it because neither of us can read German…
- Prof. Sokol’s blog: The best source of information for new antitrust-related publications. We don’t know how he does it, but he finds out about almost anything that is published.
- The Antitrust Hotch Potch. As you know, prior to starting Chillin’Competition Nicolas used to run the Antitrust Hotch Potch with Damien Geradin. Damien kept the blog and the trademark and has since then re-started it (about 3-4 times in the past few months) ;) Damien has an admirable ability to surround himself with smart people (like Nico back in the day) and this time he has been joined by young Covington associates, namely John Wileur, Christos Malamataris and Jennifer Boudet. It’s a great initiative, so good luck! We will be happy to generate some debate with them (a piece of humble advice: in our experience it’s important to identify the person writing each post!).
- Kluwer Competition Law Blog. This one features very good stuff. It currently has more than 20 co-authors (including people who we know well and like, such as Thomas, Damien, José, Gavin…. ). In spite of the different styles it generally features very interesting stuff. The only thing we miss is more regular updates.
- Competition Bulletin. Written by 10 authors (Blackstone Chambers barristers + Oke Odudu) this blog features very interesting stuff, notably on UK competition law. I should have mentioned them here before (my apologies for the delay).
- Truthonthemarket. It not only covers antitrust issues, but also wider economic or IP-related issues. Its posts are always timely and insightful.
- Derechomercantilespana. Written by Jesús Alfaro, who does an amazing job covering all sorts of corporate and competition related development several times a day. How he gets the time is beyond me. The content ranges from a Judgment by a lower Court in a tiny village in Spain, to comments on EU to good music Non-spanish speakers won’t be able to enjoy it though.
- There are also a handful of blogs covering jurisdictions other than the US and the EU. Harün Gündüz once asked us to help advertise TurkishCompetitiionBulletin (well done!). Lalibrecompetencia is an excellent source of info on Latin American issues.
- Chillin’Competition: Written by two freak weirdows. One is a University Professor who spends his life in a car and likes to have his pic on his browser’s address bar. The other is a lawyer who somehow tricked his firm into letting him spread nonsense in the public domain. We frankly would not recommend you to ever read it. For each decent post they write there are dozens of nonsensical ones.
On 21 November Concurrences, A&O and MAPP will be holding a worskshop on “Standard of Proof for Economic Evidence” (registration is free and still possible through this website).
The topic is very interesting. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to attend, so I’ll make a point in public here (or rathe repeat what I co-wrote on a piece published here) in relation only to the assessment of economic evidence in judicial proceedings. To me, it’s more appropriate to refer to “economic argument” than to “economic evidence”. Unless the expert is appointed by the Court (off the top of my head I can only remember this being done in Woodpulp) or comes from the Commission (which
has the winning hand enjoys a margin of discretion in this regard), I do not see many differences between legal and economic argument put forward by the parties in competition proceedings, and no one would call lawyers´ pleadings “legal expert opinions”.
Certainly, in some cases there will be a hardcore of economic data which is not contested by opponents (be it the Commission, the parties, or complainants), but a great part of the “evidence” will be opinion and based on each one’s assumptions, not strictly evidential. An expert presenting evidence is supposed to act as a translator for the judge on areas on which the latter lacks the appropriate training. However, in real life, expert economic evidence has a “strong tendency” to favor the argumentation of one particular party, and is often contradictory with that presented by other parties.
In the end, economic evidence offered by the parties will be assessed by the European Commission and EU Courts as a friendly (former CFI Judge Huber Legal would call it “sisterly”) statement commanded by the interested party with a view to making its case more palatable to the deciding authority or court. Its value will depend on how persuasive the economist in question can be, just like lawyers and their plaidoiries. In the words of Hubert Legal at the 2006 Fordham conference “[T]he way we proceed is compatible with our Rules of Procedure because [economists] are not pleading under oath; it is only a part of the pleading, like you would have the possibility to ask a member of the board of a company to speak, or your sister or whoever is interested in the case”.