Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for July 2010


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I am leaving tomorrow on hols. Regular blogging will resume in early August. Thanks to all of you for the support, and for your interest in our postings.

And please mark your agendas for:

1. the GCLC annual conference, due on 7-8 October 2010 (see programme below).

2. the beginning of the BSC’s LLM in competition law and economics (on 1 October).

GCLC – Sixth Annual Annual Conference – 7 & 8 October 2010 – Programme and Registration Form

BTW: I have just posted a new working paper on ssrn.

(Image possibly subject to copyrights: source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

21 July 2010 at 8:44 pm

Will Never Get Funds from the EU :(

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The Commission has published today a call for projects in the context of its FP7 programme (i.e., the EU’s main instrument for funding research in Europe).

This thing is a bitter news for us legal academics looking for research funds. Under theme  8 (socio-economic sciences and humanities), only one topic is related specifically to law.

This bitter feeling only gets worse when looking at the selected topic: “Rule of Law and Justice in a Multilevel Governance System“. Although I do love legal theory, I hate  jargon-driven, remote from practice research topics, and don’t believe this is the direction where the EU should direct its funds.

Take a bite at it and read the following summary of the research topic. Really disconcerting.

Interdisciplinary research -drawing from law as well as sociology, political science, history or others- should address the implications of the Lisbon Treaty on the very identity and’actorness’ of the EU with regard to its legal personality and the impact of this on the work ofthe EU and its Member States. The integration of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into theTreaty and the new provisions of the Stockholm Programme must be taken into account.More broadly research could examine how the interaction between the Community method,intergovernmental decision making, and matters decided by national and EU parliaments,executives, courts as well as international bodies influence the legitimacy and theeffectiveness of EU policies. The impacts of the diversity of legal cultural traditions and bodyof law (e.g. common, civil or Islamic law tradition) on mutual recognition of judicialdecisions, the internal market, family law and many regulatory fields should also be assessed.The citizen’s point of view when faced with a multilevel governance system in the field ofjustice needs to be examined, as well as the implications of the Citizen’s Initiatives foreseen inthe Treaty. Different degrees and forms of ‘litigiosity’ –in terms of intensity of resort to legal suit- across countries, sectors and political and legal cultures in contexts ranging from economic regulation to consumer’s safety and the development of alternative disputes resolution could be assessed“.

Written by Nicolas Petit

20 July 2010 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

New Notice on Verticals – Switzerland

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Our good friend David Mamane has informed us that just a few weeks following the reform of the EU rules on verticals,  the Swiss Competition Commission had published its own new notice on vertical agreements. The Notice outlines the basic antitrust rules applicable to the drafting and assessment of distribution agreements that relate to Switzerland. A number of rules have been brought in line with the new EU regime (e.g. the double market share treshold).

David’s law firm has published a short memo which nicely summarizes the content of  the new notice (see attached document below).

Verticals Notice Newsflash Schellenberg Wittmer

(Image possibly subject to copyrights: source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

19 July 2010 at 12:58 pm

Happy Bday

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The Polish Competition Authority – UOKiK – has posted on its website a whole book entitled “Changes in Competition Policy Over the Last Two Decades“.

This book was written to celebrate the 20th anniversary of UOKiK. The list of authors is impressive.

Written by Nicolas Petit

16 July 2010 at 10:26 am

No brainer

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We have already commented the Court’s 2009 ruling in Glaxo.

In going through the judgment  this morning, I got shocked again.

Frankly speaking, this judgment is a mascarade. What the Court has thrown in this judgment is a straightforward statement that it has no interest in substantive competition law issues. To justify this, the Court dissimulates itself behind (i) the black letter, old-Treaty wording (name it judicial textualism); and (ii) its existing case law (name it judicial conservatism).

Look closely at §§59-63. In fact, it takes the Court just a few lines  to quash the CFI’s ruling, which raised a novel – and worth discussing – question of substantive competition law (i.e. the role of consumer welfare under Article 101 TFEU) . Here is what the Court says in this case:

1. We’ve said that a practice restricting parallel trade is a restriction by object a million times (§59)

2. This applies to pharmaceuticals. The AG has said so (!), and we made a case in pharma a while ago. (§§60-62)

3. The wording of the Treaty does not talk of consumer welfare. Competition is thus protected as such.

4. **** off

A discussion of the very issue (regardless of its outcome) would have been – at the very least – welcome. I believe, indeed, that the role of the ECJ is not only (1) to scrutinize cases (judicial review) but (2) to take stances on novel issues and set substantive standards (rule making).

Two final remarks:

  1. In the EU, executive and legislative institutions can be prosecuted for failure to act. Why is the Court immune from such proceedings?
  2. Lately, the Court has delivered remarkable judicial output in other fields (e.g.   institutional law, the four freedoms, etc.) Why has substantive competition law been left unaffected by this evolution?

(Image possibly subject to copyrights: source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

15 July 2010 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Case-Law

Summer time

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The good thing about summer time:

  • No classes
  • No exams
  • No conferences
  • Less emails

Over the past days, I have managed to clean up my mailbox and, more importantly, to write a  new paper, which I just posted on ssrn. It deals with merger remedies in coordinated effects cases.

This is still work in progress. Comments welcome, as usual.

(Picture subject to copyrights: source here)

PS: re. picture – by now, most of you should have understood that I am a huge rock n’ roll fan.

Written by Nicolas Petit

14 July 2010 at 4:09 pm

Slides of the 48th GCLC Lunch Talk – Settlements

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I post hereafter the slides presented by K. Dekeyser (DG COMP) at the 48th GCLC Lunch Talk last week.

Slides Dekeyser – Putting the Settlement Procedure into Practice – 7-7-2010

Written by Nicolas Petit

13 July 2010 at 9:18 pm

New Interesting Book

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A new book, with  follows a very novel perspective on the Commission’s decisional practice, has been published.

“European Commission Decisions on Competition: Economic Perspectives on Landmark Antitrust and Merger Cases” is now available from Cambridge University Press. This reference book offers a classification and analysis of all European Commission decisions adopted pursuant to European antitrust rule (i.e. Articles 101, 102 and 106 of the FEU Treaty) from the Treaty of Rome of 1957, up to and including 2009. It also includes a sample of landmark European merger cases. The decisions are organized according to the principal economic theory applied in the case. For each economic category, we describe in a fixed template format the seminal decision(s) that became a reference point for that type of (anti)competitive behavior. All subsequent decisions in which the same economic principle was applied are listed chronologically.

For more information and to order, click here

Written by Nicolas Petit

9 July 2010 at 7:13 am

New Entrant

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We are pleased to announce that we have a new competitor.  Pay them a visit, it looks really good.

Written by Nicolas Petit

8 July 2010 at 10:06 pm

It’s a Long Way to the Top

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See below. Found on LL.M Guide, a website advertising LL.Ms. One student made a strong plea in favour of our LL.M. in Liege. This triggered disagreement on the forum, with a respondent  rightly arguing that I am not a “leading competition scholar” (as opposed to other “gods” of competition law, amongst which the amazingly good and esteemed Prof. Richard Whish).

The chap who replies to him certainly has a point. It is still a long way to the top for me. If one day, I could get only close to Whish’s teaching skills…

Anyway, the funny thing is that I have thought a lot in the past weeks as to how I could improve my way of doing business.  At this stage, my conclusion is that I need to refocus a little on things  that really matter. To this end, I am facing a number of options on which I would certainly love feedback from my readers.

As far as time management is concerned – am running on scarce resources – shall I

  1. Stop the blog?;
  2. Quit GCLC?;
  3. Quit the new born BSC?;
  4. Surrender the Direction of the Liege Institute for European Legal Studies?
  5. Quit other courses which I give on an occasional basis (EDHEC in France, MGIMO in Russia, etc.)
  6. Stop organizing conferences

As to the selection of my areas of scientific interest, shall I:

  1. Keep an interest in the various areas of competition enforcement (101, 102 and merger control) or focus only on a micro area of EU competition law?
  2. Keep following Belgian and French competition laws, in parallel to EU competition law?
  3. Start writing papers in English only, or continue my 50/50 balance between contributions in  French and English?

Happy to get your feedback on the above.

Nota: The picture above is taken from one of the greatest rock LPs of all time (source here). This LP features the title “It’s a long way to the top”, which has one of the most addictive and catchy riffs I have ever heard.

Written by Nicolas Petit

7 July 2010 at 9:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized