Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

On problematic markets, a new competition law app and a great book

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You know the drill: busy day= quick advertising.

– On June 12-13 2004 the University of East Anglia (Norwich) will be holding a conference on “Problem markets” (according to the organizers, this refers to markets that are “too hot for regulators to handle, with nobody quite sure why or what should be done about it“).

One of the speakers will be an also problematic (the definition above applies, except for he “too hot” bit) French Professor now turned temporary DG Comp staffer who founded this blog and who goes by the name of Nicolas Petit.  In addition, there will also be a number of big names among the speakers 😉 For further details, click here.

– I’ve been contacted by the developers of a new app called “Comp law” that provides access to updated versions of the main legal documents of daily use (in the antitrust, state aid and merger control domains) in a smartphone-user friendly format; it also includes other stuff, such as a merger control calendar which takes into account Commission holidays (which I guess should be particularly useful for the holiday planning of Commission officials dealing with mergers…). It’s available at the AppStore and costs € 1,79 (for the moment it’s only available for iOS).

– The 3rd edition of Faull & Nikpay’s The EU Law of Competition is now out. It is without a a doubt one of the must-have books in EU competition law, and most likely the most comprehensive one. Indeed a great book (with over 1.2 million words according to the publicity we’ve seen).

Btw, and since we’re on advertising mood, my other must-have books are this one, this one, this one, this one (undergoing updating works), and, of course, this one (for Frenchies) and this one Before you click on any of these, be aware that the selection may not be strictly neutral…


Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

9 April 2014 at 4:44 pm

New Issue of European Competition Journal

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Blank bookcover with clipping path


Volume 9 . Number 3 . December 2013

The 3rd issue of the 2013 volume of European Competition Journal is now available online.


To access this issue online and purchase individual papers please click here.


For further information about European Competition Journal, please click here.


Antitrust Marathon V: When in Rome Public and Private Enforcement of Competition Law

A discussion led by Philip Marsden, Spencer Weber Waller and Philipp Fabbio


Topic 1: Public–Private Partnerships for Effective Enforcement

Public–Private Partnerships for Effective Enforcement: Some “Hybrid” Insights?

Philip Marsden

Topic 2: Effective Injunctive Relief

Effective Injunctive Relief

Spencer Weber Waller

Topic 3: Private Actions for Damages

Private Actions for Damages

Philipp Fabbio

Topic 4: Criminal Enforcement

Real Crime: Criminal Competition Law

Susan Beth Farmer

Abstract: The Antitrust Marathon is a long-running series of roundtable discussions sponsored by the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the Competition Law Forum of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, focusing on enduring issues of comparative competition law. These discussions always take place the day before or after the great marathon races of the world which some of the participants also endure. However, no running is required for the roundtable discussion itself. Past Antitrust Marathons have focused on Abuse of Dominance, Antitrust and the Rule of Law; Competition and Consumer Protection, and other topics, and have been held in Chicago, London, Boston and Dublin. We are grateful to the Italian Competition Authority and the University of Rome I (Sapienza) for hosting and being co- sponsors of the 2013 Antitrust Marathon.

Please click here to purchase paper

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Written by Nicolas Petit

20 January 2014 at 11:40 am

The Concept of Abuse in EU Competition Law

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Note: The new release of Competition Law Journal features a book review that I wrote this past summer about Pinar Akman’s interesting book: The Concept of Abuse in EU Competition Law: Legal and Economic Approaches.  I took advantage of the opportunity to voice out some perhaps not-so-frequent views on competition law in general and Article 102 in particular, mainly casting doubt on the convenience of upholding efficiency as its single, sacred, overarching goal and raison d’être. It is reproduced below:

The interest, apparent complexity and the peculiar nature of competition law stem to a great extent from the abstract nature and impreciseness of its main concepts. Most other areas of law have settled and well understood central notions. Competition law, by contrast, is premised upon particularly nebulous or malleable concepts (fortunately for those of us that make a living out of it, and perhaps not so much for those directly subject to it). Ask most lawyers about what a ‘restriction of competition’ is and you will get a surprising variety of theories, and most likely some striking silences. And whereas competition law concepts are open enough to accommodate different – often conflicting – interpretations, no other concept gives rise to the same level of controversy as the notion of ‘abuse of dominance’.

Indeed, despite longstanding efforts – including some notable recent ones by enforcers on both sides of the Atlantic – we still lack a precise idea of what an abuse of dominance is. Moreover, it has become common for partisans of different schools or viewpoints to point at the obvious irrationality of their counterparts: those ‘irrational ordoliberals’ on the one side, or those ‘irrational neoliberals’ on the other, both cross-criticized for obviously lacking any merit in their arguments. Article 102 elicits passions that move discussions away from ideally Cartesian legal debates and closer to those touching on more profound and vital issues such as religion, politics and football.

Our inability to come up with satisfactory rules to distinguish legitimate and illegitimate unilateral conduct by dominant firms has provided fertile ground for the creativity of both practicing lawyers and academics (and, to be sure, of competition enforcers as well). Focusing only on the academic domain, Pinar Akman’s book is preceded by an endless list of publications having as their object – but perhaps not as their effect – the clarification of Art 102 TFEU.

Against this background, Pinar Akman’s book stands out as a particularly original contribution to this debate, and one that is definitely worth reading. The book is very innovative in its approach, it is well written, and it visibly is the result of thorough research, reflection and drafting. Akman’s work is deliberately theoretical; it is not aimed at providing a systematic and thorough account of cases; it stays true to its stated purpose of proposing a ‘completely fresh approach’ to Art 102 TFEU, and it does indeed submit thought-provoking ideas.

The Concept of Abuse in EU Competition Law is grounded on the author’s arguable assumption that “the approach that has been adopted by EU authorities to date is far from desirable or appropriate and sometimes is even far from rational“. Consistent with this critical stance, the book seeks not to provide an analysis of the case law and decisional practice, but rather to propose its radical overhaul. This is boldly announced in its very first paragraph:

The reader of this book is invited to put to one side her preconceptions of the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position in Article 102 TFEU, in particular those directly resulting from the judgments of the Court of Justice (ECJ). Fortunately, this is not asking for too much; after all, the ECJ is not legally bound by precedent.”

It is often said that the first phrase in any literary work should create a tension prompting the reader to continue the story. I acknowledge that the bold view of precedents as preconceptions made me read the rest of the book with increased interest.

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Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

16 December 2013 at 2:09 pm

Nico wins best legal book of the year award

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Nico Prize

First it was the Jacques Lassier prize for his PhD thesis (see here).

Then the Antitrust Writing Award (thanks, btw, to the campaign I so well managed… ; see here).

And now (actually, last Saturday) Nico got the “Prix du livre juridique” to the best legal book published in France (see here), for his new textbook Droit européen de la concurrence.

The prize was awarded at the Constitutional Court in Paris; prestigious setting for a prestigious prize (see pic above; in case you were wondering, Nicolas is the one posing).

Judging by his mother’s comment on his Facebook wall, the prize has made the family happy. You know, there haven’t been so many ocassions to feel proud of the chap  🙂

Congrats to Nico for the prize and for his contribution to spreading the competition gospel in France. Hopefully new generations of French will gain a better understanding of competition law and, unlike the jury in this case, will be able to tell what’s sound legal competition reasoning and what’s not !

P.S. Contrary to what you might think, I’m not writing this simply to promote my co-blogger’s achievement. I’m doing it because the a****** said he won’t give me a free copy, so I’m hoping that some advertisement will earn me one from the publisher.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

16 October 2013 at 8:58 pm

The Procedural Bible is out

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The 3rd edition of EU Competition Procedure (Oxford University Press) is out.

I’m the least objective reviewer, because its editor is Luis Ortiz Blanco, who, among many other things, is the person because of whom I work in competition law (he essentialy planned my whole professional career the very first day he interviewed me for an internship, when I was only 20).

For this third edition Luis has brought together a truly exceptional team. In addition to my colleagues Konstantin Jorgens, Marcos Araujo and José Luis Buendía, who, together with Kieron Beal, Gordon Blanke and Jean Paul Keppenehad already contributed to the 2nd edition, there have been very notable additions from the Commission’s Legal Service and DG Comp, namely: Carlos Urraca, Ralf Sauer, Corneliu Hodlmeyr, Manuel Kellerbauer, Nicolas von Lingen and Maria Luisa Tierno Centella.

The book (a short read of over 1,200 pages) deals in more depth than any other source with procedural issues in antitrust, merger control, State aid, public undertakings and exclusive/special rights, competition enforcement in the EEA and arbitration. It’s a must-have.

I’ll do my best to get you an invite for the launching party, like last time.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

14 October 2013 at 7:05 am

Book Review – Soft Law in Court

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Oana Stefan (HEC Paris) has kindly sent us a copy of her book on soft law in competition and state aid law.

This book is the first monograph ever devoted to this issue.

Amongst other things, the book uses quantitative data to confirm that the judgments of the EU Courts abundantly refer to soft law instruments.

It also argues that the distinction between binding and non binding effects is too crude.

Lastly, it shows that the EU courts have created legal hybrids when endorsing soft law instruments on the ground that they are the expression of general principles of law. This generates, in the author’s words, a “judicialization” of soft law.

A must read. Apparently, Oana will in the future focus on how national courts deal with soft law instruments.

A full description of the book can be found here.

Two final remarks. First, I’d love  to read Oana’s views on the appalling Expedia judgment (Expedia Inc v Autorité de la concurrence and Others C-226/11). Second, this book review does not mean that we are “sokolizing” this blog. Our tacit understanding with Dan is that he focuses on the scholarship reviews, we concentrate on the rest (including the nonsense).

Written by Nicolas Petit

23 June 2013 at 1:51 pm

Private Enforcement in Ireland

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Hart has offered us a book in exchange of some advertisement on this blog.

So here we go: their latest competition law volume is a book by David McFadden entitled “The Private Enforcement of Competition Law in Ireland”.         

Abstract: Competition is recognised as a key driver of growth and innovation. Competition ensures that businesses continually improve their goods and services whilst striving to reduce their costs. Anti-competitive conduct by businesses, such as price-fixing, causes harm to the economy, to other businesses and to consumers. It is small businesses and the consumer who ultimately pay the price for anti-competitive conduct. A coherent competition policy that is both effectively implemented and effectively enforced is essential in driving growth and innovation in a market economy. The importance of competition was recently emphasised when the EU/ECB/IMF ‘Troika’ included a number of competition specific conditions to the terms of Ireland’s bailout. Both Irish and Community law recognise the right for parties injured by anti-competitive conduct to sue for damages. This right to damages, in theory allows those that have suffered loss to recover that loss whilst helping to deter others from taking the illegal route to commercial success. However private actions for damages in Ireland are rare.

This book asks what the purpose of private competition litigation is and questions why there has been a dearth of this litigation in Ireland. The author makes a number of suggestions for reform of the law to enable and encourage private competition litigation. The author takes as his starting point the European Commission’s initiative on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules and compares the position in Ireland to that currently found in the UK and US.

David McFadden is Legal Adviser and solicitor to the Irish Competition Authority and has published extensively on competition law and other regulatory issues in Ireland.

April 2013   302pp   Hbk   9781849464130  RSP: £50 / €65 / US$100 / CDN $80

20% DISCOUNT PRICE: £40 / €65 / US$80 / CDN$80

Order Online in US


If you would like to place an order you can do so through the Hart Publishing website (link above). To receive the discount please type the reference ‘CCB’ in the special instructions field. Please note that the discount will not show up on your order confirmation but will be applied when your order is processed.


Order Online in the UK, EU and Rest of World

UK, EU and ROW:

If you would like to place an order you can do so through the Hart Publishing website (link above). To receive the discount please type the reference ‘CCB’ in the voucher code field and click ‘apply’.

Hart Publishing Ltd, 16C Worcester Place, Oxford, OX1 2JW

Telephone Number: 01865 517 530

Fax Number: 01865 510 710


Written by Nicolas Petit

23 April 2013 at 6:10 pm