Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for June 2011

Job Opportunities

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Let’s put headhunters out of jobs :).

I heard on the grapevine that  Covington and Burling Brussels is facing a huge stream of new business.

The downside is that current partners and associates are working ’round the clock.  Since I have good friends, co-authors and university colleagues there, I am a little concerned.

Now, Covington and Burling is hiring junior and senior associates. I suppose you can send your application to one of the partners working on competition cases.


Written by Nicolas Petit

30 June 2011 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

OFT goes to Hollywood

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Remember our Antitrust Oscars?

We have a new and excellent candidate for the category of “Best Film by a Competition Authority”.

Check out the Compliance Film that the OFT has just released and which includes a dramatised dawn raid and special guest appearances from the likes of Prof. Richard Whish. A cool initiative within the OFT´s wider compliance project.

(Thanks to Christopher Brown and Luis Ortiz Blanco for drawing our attention to it!).

And coming soon to a blog near you…we have a truly excellent film in the pipeline with very special actors and a very special director. We´ll post it here as soon as we can overcome some technical issues.

PS. For those of you who haven´t already heard, Damien Neven (former Chief Economist at DG Comp) is joining Charles River Associates.  Stay tuned, there might just be some more related news coming up soon.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

29 June 2011 at 8:36 pm

Slides of GCLC Lunch Talk on Remedies in State Aid Banking Cases

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I attach below the slides presented by H. Gilliams (Eubelius) and N. Pesaresi+G. Mamdani (DG COMP) at yesterday’s lunch talk.

Pesaresi and Madamdani – Competition Measures and State Aid Banking Cases

Hans Gilliams — Bank R&R aid — compensatory measures — GCLC Lunch Talk 27 June 2011

The open question to me: the remedial approach enclosed in those slides sought primarily to address the “too big to fail” issue. Now, should this approach be applied to the different setting where banks face bankrupcy issues because they have purchased dirty paper from failing States?


Written by Nicolas Petit

28 June 2011 at 6:41 pm

Antitrust Quotes of the Day

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On the alleged non-structural views of Chicago scholars => “An  industry which does not have a competitive structure will not have competitive behavior”  (George J. Stigler, “The Case Against Big Business,” Fortune, May 1952)

On the 2004 Microsoft case => “The Commission’s case was like a jellyfish – shapeless and very painful” (I. Forrester). Thanks to I. Debois for the pointer.


Written by Nicolas Petit

27 June 2011 at 4:53 pm

Competition (?) Press Clips

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Many recent news appear somewhat different when looked at from the perspective of an antitrust geek professional. Some quick examples:

Novel anticompetitive practices? Pizza maker charged with using mice against competition

An EU sponsored cartel? “The EU will have to agree with rating agencies to ensure that none of them declares the Greek rollover as a default” 

(An interesting case study of oligopolistic behavior: monitoring is easy, and the EU certainly has credible retaliatory mechanisms at its disposal…)

“The successful competitor, having been urged to compete, must not be turned upon when he wins” Man dies after winning vodka-drinking competition

Similar perils arising from too vigorous competition: Man dies in sauna competition; Man dies in cake-eating competition

A successful maverick? Roland Bunce wins next top model competition

There were a couple of “real” antitrust news too:

Google´s subpoenas Feds to launch probe of Google

European Commission fines Telekomunikacja Polska

One of our posts quoted by Bloomberg Edison, Air Liquide EU Rulings May Aid Fine Cuts, Lawyers Say 

Finally (and I promise this is not a joke either), the last of our Press Clips is a further illustration of the Spanish Competition Commission´s proactiveness:

 The CNC fines various associations in the Press Clippings Sector


Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

24 June 2011 at 1:25 pm

Brussels School of Competition – Materials of Conference on Information Exchange

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Yesterday, the Brussels School of Competition held its first conference. This inaugural event was devoted to information exchange agreements.

Unlike other events, we tried to avoid having another Horizontal Guidelines’ bashing conference.

Rather, and in line with the BSC’s second mission (compliance), the conference sought to improve awareness of the key principles applicable to information exchanges.

To this end, we designed a very comprehensive programme, which covered horizontal as well as vertical exchange of information. We also included a presentation on information exchanges promoted by public institutions.

I am certainly biased, but the conference was really good. Loads of questions, great presentations, good timing, nice turnout (approximately 80 participants).

So you can judge by yourself, I attach below the speakers’ slides.

Slides – Frank Wijckmans – Information Exchange through Intermediaries

Slides – Frederic Puel – Government Sponsored Exchange of Information

Slides – Lars Kjolbye – Information Exchange – Dos and Donts

Slides – Cormac O’Daly – Information Exchange through Competitor Contacts

Written by Nicolas Petit

23 June 2011 at 8:38 pm

Posted in Events

The Spanish CNC at the avant-garde of competition enforcement?

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Some posts ago we referred here to the Spanish Competition Authority’s decision sanctioning the main Spanish electricity companies with fines totaling some 61 million euros as a good illustration of how quantity and quality may not necessarily go hand in hand with regard to competition law enforcement in Spain.

(Btw, the comments to our previous post express interesting views on the CNC´s attitude and offers possible explanations to its causes. In the days after that post was published several other pieces on the CNC´s performance also appeared elsewhere).

As anticipated then, I believe that the “innovative” theories put forward by the CNC on its decision (which include “sham litigation” and a version of what Nicolas has labeled as “Karate competition law“) merit a comment on this blog, so here go some brief remarks on the decision:

(Before getting started, a disclaimer is in order: my firm is representing one of the entities sanctioned by the CNC. Accordingly, and although I am expressing my very personal views, you are at liberty to take them with a pinch of salt). Those interested in a summary overview of the facts and of the CNC’s official position, check out the CNC´s Press Release here.

Even though the decision declares that companies are responsible for two infringements I will merely focus on the one that can be of greater interest to our readers:

According to the CNC, this infringement consisted of a strategy (note: not a conduct, but a strategy revealed by circumstantial evidence) aimed at hindering customers from changing of electricity supplier at a moment in which deregulation was taking place.  One –the main- component of this strategy was an agreement adopted by electricity companies within the framework of their association to appeal a Ministerial Order on the grounds that it contravened data protection rules by not envisaging the right of companies to refuse to provide certain personal data.  The other alleged elements consisted of a temporal “cutt-off” of operations relating to applications to move to the free market (which both the Ministry and the Energy Regulator consider justified) as well as of a refusal to meet the requests of one supplier (that had previously been sanctioned by the CNC on a different decision).

(Click here if you’re interested in a comment on the issues that perplex me the most) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

22 June 2011 at 8:56 pm