Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

On Nicolas Petit leaving Chillin’Competition and on reasons to continue it

with 4 comments

 

(Cautionary note:  as this post is rather lengthy and rather personal, you won’t lose too much if you skip it).

Last Friday Nico announced that he was quitting Chillin’Competition, so this blog loses its founder and main figure (although it’s true that there weren’t so many).

In order to dispel the rumors that seem to be going around I’ll address them directly: no, it’s not a hoax; no we haven’t fought (in fact we had lunch together today, as witnessed by some prominent Commission officials, one of whom even said that it was good to see that we were still talking to each other despite the rumors…); no he didn’t have an affair with my wife (at least not that I know of) nor me with his girlfriend (apparently because I’m not attractive enough), and no, his move is not due to political pressures from his home country after our posts on Arnaud Montebourg (see here and here) provoked the French Government’s collapse.

So, yes, Nico is leaving the platform he created back in September 2009 (I only joined a few weeks later –on 8 October 2009-, initially as a guest, and I’m still grateful for his invitation for me to join, particularly because back then he was already well known and I was a very young associate at a Spanish law firm whom he really didn’t know that much). For some reason it worked, and in the course of these 5 years –time flies- we have written no less than 960 posts(!) and had 800,000 visits. His creature fared well.

Nicolas and I certainly didn’t have the same views on some substantive issues and we naturally did have divergences, all of them because he always wanted me to be more politically incorrect  and I always told him not to play the enfant terrible. But I think the mix contributed to this blog being less one-sided and hopefully more interesting.

As for the real reasons behind this decision, he can explain better, but I think he summed it up well when he said that “the thrill is gone”. His quitting the blog fits within a reshuffling of priorities that also includes his resignation as Director of the Global Competition Law Center. As I’m writing I’ve just recalled that, interestingly, both of these moves were already anticipated in a post he wrote 3 years ago listing possible things to quit fromin order to refocus a little on things that really matter”.

As he said in his farewell post, we had been discussing this for a while. I even wrote here back in July thatyou should expect some significant changes in Chillin’Competition after the summer holidays” . To tell the truth, at the time I was thinking of quitting myself.

I saw plenty of reasons to do it. For one, finding the time to think things through and write properly about them was becoming impossible, with the result that our publications weren’t nearly as good as we’d like them to be and wouldn’t reflect well on us. On top of that, which has been a constant over these years, I felt that what used to be a fun exercise now had become an obligation, that I was running out of ideas worth your and my time, and that what used to be a fresh approach to things wasn’t really anymore. No less important, what I enjoy is actual lawyering, and was –and still am- quite weary of being seen more as a blogger than as a lawyer, even if a bit of that is, I guess, inevitable. And most important of all, my first son was about to be born (Edu came on August 30th) and I want to save all my non-working time for him. As you can see, and as this esteemed guy observed back then over a beer or two, it really sounded like I’d made up my mind. [Actually, all this is starting to sound compelling again!]

This is all to say that when Nicolas gave me some of the same arguments in support of his contemplated move, I understood him perfectly. And the fact that he’d already quit posting 6 months ago whilst at DG Comp certainly broke the inertia and made the decision easier for him.

At the same time, it also made me reconsider my own position. For one, I thought it’d be a pity for the two of us to leave and let the blog die; not because it has any social value –which it obviously hasn’t and we surely could do more useful things with our time- but because, after all, we’ve had fun doing it, we’re even told that at times our writings may have even had an influence in the application/interpretation of the law (which, if true, I’m not sure is positive for the law, though) and it has also enabled us to meet very interesting people.

Many advised us to continue with the blog because it is good as a matter of “visibility”. Indeed, when we have asked for advice about terminating it, many –particularly lawyers- replied that we shouldn’t do it because it gives us visibility, as if that were per se a good thing. To that I consistently responded that visibility cuts both ways, that any stupidity we might write would also be very visible, that sometimes it’s preferable to remain silent and look stupid than to open one’s mouth to confirm that appearances don’t lie, and that it’s a bit of a problem that our most visible work is precisely that which –unlike real work- is done hastily and not always upon careful reflection.

I confess that the main reason why I’ll remain writing here even with Nicolas gone, at the least for as long as the baby is still a baby (I see too many people in this job with skewed priorities), is one of intellectual hygiene. For some reason I can only think properly about something when I write or teach about it. So even if it may be uncomfortable to commit to finding the time and the ideas to write here, and even if I’ll have to remain being careful with balancing it with my real job, I guess this is a good way of forcing myself out of the comfort zone to continue learning.

Since I don’t think it’s good for the blog to be run only by a practitioner like myself, a new addition to the team will be announced in the coming hours. Your ideas and suggestions on the way to go will also be very welcome.

A last note: Nicolas is quitting regular posting but I hope that he’ll be willing to contribute from time to time. We will also continue to work together in the Brussels School of Competition, the Madrid course and possibly in some other projects under the Chillin’Competition brand. And you won’t get rid of ads, because I’ve promised him to continue advertising all his events and publications here.

In sum, thanks so much, Nico, and you know you’ll always be most welcome if you ever want to return chez toi.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

6 October 2014 at 5:46 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Nicolas: I will be very to lose your insight and willingness to speak out on this blog, it is important to have objective and courageous views expressed and yours are always thoughtful and of value. Au revoir

    Trevor Soames

    9 October 2014 at 9:58 am

  2. Thanks a lot Trevor, this is a very kind message. Much appreciated. And thanks for following us all those years.

    Nicolas Petit

    9 October 2014 at 3:13 pm

  3. Apologies for having failed to see that my iPad deleted some of the words that I intended to use, rendering my English pretty incomprehensible. Some will say that’s nothing new! I had intended to say that “I will be very sorry to lose your insight…” etc etc. Nevertheless you worked it out. I hope that the new operators of the blog will retain something of your radical and independent spirit, furthermore that they will not “brown nose” or be overly PC in their commentary which one hopes will continue to be incisive and not spun in favour of particular clients, or seek to curry favour and avoid upsetting people. Otherwise I for one will stop reading it…. cheers…and have fun, stay chilled and biking….

    Trevor Soames

    11 October 2014 at 7:27 pm

    • Thanks Trevor, for the kind words and the encouragement for the future.. If you give them green light I’d love to have a couple of your collegues writing on the blog (in a politically incorrect tone, bien sûr).

      I can in any event anticipate that, contrary to the requirement, I’ll keep trying to avoid upseting people (except when commenting on given cases where, I’m afraid, it’s inevitable that one side will be more upset).
      See you in a couple of hours

      Alfonso Lamadrid

      15 October 2014 at 8:40 am


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