Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

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Since these days we’re read mostly by those unfortunate people not enjoying August holidays, we’ve decided to publish a few light posts. This one is particularly light:

Some of you have conveyed to us your surprise about the fact that -despite our frequent attention to food cases (an attention which was prompted by the landmark endives case)- we missed the news about confectionery manufacturer Haribo being sanctioned by the Bundeskartellamt for exchanging competitively relevant information (see here).

The case actually appears to be a very interesting one (thanks to Gavin Bushell for pointing our attention to it). Not knowing more about it than what the press release says, the Bundeskartellamt’s application of two instruments developed for cartel cases (i.e. leniency and settlements) in a stand-alone exchange of information case appears to confirm the concerns I (I use the singular because Nico and I disagree on this) expressed in previous posts (see here) about the possibility of stand-alone information exchanges suddenly being treated as cartels. I stick to what I said back then: “enlarging the legal concept of cartel so as to encompass information exchanges, thereby applying to them all the instruments that were developed and justified in the framework of the fight against cartels is bad policy and a dangerous development”.

In our defense, we have to explain that there is actually a reason why we missed these news: it’s bikini time. We’re healthy guys, and therefore a few weeks ago we decided to get sweets and carbohydrates out of our enforcement menu saga. You may remember that the last of our post on competition and food related to shrimps; today we have a mushroom side complement (all very proteic and Dukan diet compliant as you can see): last Wednesday a U.S. federal judge sanctioned a company  in multidistrict litigation alleging a conspiracy to hike mushroom prices, holding the mushroom seller liable for an affiliated distributor’s destruction of documents sought by the plaintiffs (see here) (Thanks to José Carlos da Matta for the pointer!).0

By the way, one our readers particularly liked the shrimp post; Eva, if you like mushrooms too we suggest you try this (pictured above).

Getting serious now, the fact that we’re recurrently joking about food cases is not only a consequence of the limited scope of our sense of humor, but is made possible by food having become an enforcement priority for competition authorities. I, for one, am currently involved in a few food-related cases. In fact, European competition authorities seem to be competing as to which one is toughest on food. The evidence: check out the European Competition Network’s very interesting report on its members activities in the food sector.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

7 August 2012 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Hotch Potch, Jokes

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