Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for August 2018

Discretionalists vs legalists (ULB Summer School, 7 September): want to attend Pablo’s keynote?

leave a comment »


The Institute for European Studies, based at the Université libre de Bruxelles, will run a new edition of its Competition Law Summer School in a couple of weeks. In addition to the intense training on fundamental and current issues, they have foreseen a series of lectures and keynote speeches.

The organisers have invited me to give a lecture based on the post on discretionalists vs legalists that I wrote earlier this year on the blog. A 1,000-word piece can only get you so far when developing ideas, so I am delighted that I will have around an hour to put some flesh on them.

The lecture will take place on Friday 7 September at 7pm. The venue is ULB’s Institute for European Studies (39 Franklin Roosevelt Avenue, 1050 Brussels).

Are you interested in attending? The organisers are kind enough to allow 10 readers of the blog to attend. Note that places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. If you want to be one of the chosen few, send an email to Nicholas Joncheray ( I look forward to seeing you there!


Written by Pablo Ibanez Colomo

21 August 2018 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The ASCOLA conference that was (at NYU School of Law) and that will be (Aix-en-Provence, 27-29 June 2019 – with a CALL FOR PAPERS)

leave a comment »


The conference that was

The Academic Society for Competition Law (ASCOLA), of which I am a proud member, is doing really well, and its profile keeps raising. No surprise, given that the awesome Michal Gal is the current Chair.

Many will know that this year’s conference took place at NYU School of Law, a strong contender for the Coolest Location Award (and this without getting started about the quality of its antitrust faculty members, who were our hosts).

The event was intense and full of interesting stuff. I am certainly being unfair but cannot resist highlighting two presentations that got me thinking:

Ioannis Lianos gave a fascinating talk about food sovereignty and competition law. His presentation (see here) was primarily devoted to merger control issues. Ioannis discussed the transformation of the food industry, in particular the increased concentration that it is taking place.

I was left with the impression (and I told him so) that it would not be unreasonable to launch a sector inquiry identifying conduct potentially falling within the scope of Article 101 TFEU (and/or their equivalents around the world). Cross-licensing, joint ventures and patent settlements are all practices that deserve close scrutiny in a concentrated industry.

I also enjoyed a paper (available here) by Marco Botta and Klaus Wiedemann on exploitative practices in the data economy. The paper is solid, rigorous and firmly grounded on positive analysis (quite important at a time when many scholars like to indulge in speculation, in particular when addressing all things digital).

Incidentally, these were some of the very qualities I identified as desirable in a pre-conference discussion on what makes a good competition law paper.

As far as I am concerned, I gave a presentation on Regulatory Capture and the New EU Competition Law (available here). It is a topic about which I have been thinking for a while (remember this post?). I have the impression that competition lawyers tend to be somewhat complacent about the risk of capture. I discussed some of the reasons why competition law may be vulnerable to this phenomenon, as well as the safeguards available in the system.

The conference that will be

David Bosco, in his capacity as host-to-be, said a word about the location of next year’s ASCOLA conference. It will take place at the Faculty of Law of Aix-Marseille University (in lovely Aix-en-Provence, in case you were wondering whether it was one or the other city). The call for papers can be found here. Make sure you save the dates: 27-29 June 2019.

The conference will be devoted to ‘Challenges to the Assumptions at the Basis of competition Law’ and will cover issues such as the following:

  • The goals of competition law and how they can be achieved;
  • How markets operate (including the effects of certain types of conduct and/or technologies on market performance);
  • The correct balance between risks and benefits of certain market actions or technological changes;
  • The institutional structure that best serves competition law enforcement;
  • Burdens of proof, and economic and legal presumptions that best serve its goals;
  • The interaction of competition law with other legal or regulatory spheres, and how they affect overall social welfare.

Please note that the pre-conference discussion will be this time devoted to ‘Innovative Ways to Teach Competition Law’.

And before I forget: if you would like to join ASCOLA, please follow this link.

Written by Pablo Ibanez Colomo

14 August 2018 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Memories of my workation in Buenos Aires

leave a comment »

Buenos Aires

Alfonso’s last post was devoted to work-life balance among lawyers. Things are quite different for academics. I rarely ever think of the things I do as work. For better (I would say) or worse, it is all a blurred line.

My recent trip to my beloved Buenos Aires was not an exception. On top of the planned (non-competition related) activities which justified my purchasing the flights, I gave three talks last week.

The occasion could not have been better. Competition law is picking up again in Argentina, and I was delighted to see so much intelligence and enthusiasm put into it. The role of competition policy in the improvement of ordinary citizens’ lives seems to be well understood by the government and key stakeholders.

My talks were given at the initiative of two Commissioners of the Argentine Competition Authority (Comisión Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia, or CNDC): Pablo Trevisán (who was lucky enough to study at LSE before I arrived) and Eduardo Stordeur (who is also the Director of the LLM in Law & Economics at Torcuato di Tella University).

On 30 August, I gave a talk at di Tella about my book (info on it and a youtube video – In Spanish – can be found here). Di Tella, a real success story, is modelled upon top US research-intensive universities. This is something I could certainly notice in the lively exchanges that followed my presentation.

A couple of days later (1 August), I spoke at the Bar Association of the City of Buenos Aires and the CNDC.

At the former, I spoke about the preconditions for competition law to emerge and flourish, and about how fragile consensus in its favour can be. I also emphasised that law and mainstream economics cannot be avoided – if they are, they eventually come back to highlight the inconsistency and unpredictability of the system.

My presentation (also in Spanish) at the Bar Association can be downloaded here.

At the competition authority, I gave an overview of recent developments in EU competition law. Officials quickly jumped in to share their views and the discussion, as expected, was of the highest level.

Whether the reasons are competition law-related or not, you should definitely visit Argentina if you ever have the chance to do so (just so you know, I already look forward to coming back). And, no matter the reasons that take you there, let me know if you want any tips!


Written by Pablo Ibanez Colomo

10 August 2018 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized