Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Self promotion

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We like to self promote at chillin’competition.

For instance, you will have noticed from yesterday’s post that Alfonso likes to incidentally recall that he works on a pending case against a giant US corporation.

So I take my turn to self promote a little, with a recap on recent and forthcoming chillin’competition-related activities:

  • I was in Helsinki with my friend Miguel Rato (Shearman & Sterling). We were invited to deliver a presentation at the 11th Annual Conference of the Association of European Competition Law Judges (AECLJ). With 60 judges from accross Europe in the room (including judges from Luxemburg), Richard Whish, Alexander Italianer and Nick Banasevic on the podium, this was a very challenging talk. I attach the presentation here: Slides – Petit & Rato – Abuse in Technology-Enabled Markets – 11th AECLJ Conference (14 06 12. A paper on “Abuse in Technology-Enabled Markets” is in the making;
  • The registration process for the 2012/2013 edition of the LLM in Competition Law & Economics at the Brussels School of Competition is now opened. We have a new brochure in which you will find a number of changes. A teaser: F. Jenny will teach on abuse with JF. Bellis, Alfonso’s existence is now official and several ***** economists have joined;
  • We have a GCLC lunch talk this Friday, on the Commission’s review on the rules on technology transfer agreements. Our speakers are Donncadh Woods (DG Competition), Frédéric Louis (WilmerHale) and Paul Lugard (Tilburg Institute for Law and Economics (TILEC) and ICC Commission on Competition);
  • Ana Paula Martinez (Levy & Salomao) is the editor of a new, impressive volume entitled Temas Atuais de Direito da Concorrencia with written contributions (in English) from S. Salop, E. Elhauge, D. Geradin, Mariana Tavares de Araujo, Ian S. Forrester and Francisco Enrique González-Díaz. Here’s the leaflet and table of contents: GED_LS-#845180-v1-2012_Brazil_Competition_Book
  • I was in Strasbourg yesterday to lecture on IP and competition law at the CEIPI and I will be in Bruges tomorrow to give a presentation at the 8th ELEA symposium. It is a very busy week, like last week… and hopefully unlike next week.

Written by Nicolas Petit

19 June 2012 at 11:44 am

Reading Competition Law Books

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In our “Friday Slot” interviews we ask what competition law book deserves an Antitrust Oscar. A frequent reply from our interviewees is that they do not read competition law books but rather consult specific sections of such books when they are looking for something in particular.

We don’t necessarily agree with this view. Even though there are certainly some books that we only use for reference, we believe that some of the best books on antitrust are texts that you will not come accross if you’re just looking for references or for the answer to a very particular problem.

In our very own experience, reading certain competition law books written by people who clearly outsmart us has provided us good general overview of issues that we may not had/have yet seen in our professional life, and, most importantly, it has obliged us to reflect and think about what makes sense and what doesn’t in a discipline to which we devote an insane proportion of our life. Personally, we have learnt most of the theory we know from books and not from attending courses, seminars or conferences, no matter how good they were.

The obvious -and reasonable- response is “if, as you say, you already devote an insane amount of time to this, why on earth would you spend non-working time reading about the same subject?”. That’s partly true, but, the way we see it, it is one thing to spend your time working on a particular issue, and a very different one to take the time and distance (not to let the trees hide the woods) to reflect on the reasonableness of the overall discipline in which we are immersed.

We’re not saying that we do -nor, of course, that anyone else should- read competition law books instead of non-competition law books. No matter how good a competition law book is, non-competition law books teach you or open your mind to much more important stuff. We are just saying that -when we’ve had the time- we have found it useful to include some competition law books in our reading list.

A (certainly non-exhaustive) selection of some of the competition law books that make a most interesting read could feature Hovenkamp’s “The Antitrust Enterprise“; Areeda and Kaplow’s “Antitrust Analysis: Problems, Text, Cases“; Bork’s “The Antitrust Paradox“; Posner’s “Antitrust Law“; Amato’s “Antitrust and the Bounds of Power“; Luis Ortiz’s “Market Power in EU Antitrust Law“, Giorgio Monti’s “EC Competition Law” or Odudu’s “The Boundaries of EC Competition Law; The Scope of Article 81“. There are many other great books but we can’t name them all (suggestions in the form of comments will be welcome!).

The ones I’m currently in the (slow) process of reading (alternating from one to the other) are “Creation without Restraint: Promoting Liberty and Rivalry in Innovation” by C. Bohannan and H. Hovenkamp;  Kevin Coates’ “Competition Law and Regulation of Technology Markets” and Einer Elhauge’s (Ed), “Research Handbook on the Economics of Antitrust Law“. I´ll also be happy to read Nicolas’ most recent book ; sorry, wrong link; this is the right one!  😉 I intend to post a review of these books here once I´m done with them.

Regardless of all the above, my personal favourite antitrust book ever is one that I have only used for specific consultations and that I will most likely never read: the Treatise written by Areeda and Hovenkamp: “Antitrust Law: An Analysis of Antitrust Principles and their Application“. The reason why I know I won’t read it is that it looks like this:

Three additional comments:

– Herbert Hovenkamp -whose work is referenced above a few times- is clearly one of the 4 or 5 people from whom I’ve learnt more antitrust law, and the only one of these (aside from his co-author late Philip Areeda) whom I have never had the chance to meet in person (which again proves the importance of competition law books). We are very proud to anticipate that our next Friday Slot interview is with him!

– There is much to be said about the pricing of many of these books. But we’ll deal with that in a separate post.

– I recently recommended here a non-competition book -in Spanish, though- and a few (four) of you have sent emails saying that you loved it, which is nice to hear. Here is another suggestion, in English this time: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genious.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

2 May 2012 at 5:55 pm

You’re invited

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It’s very impolite to speak about parties to which only you have been invited. Yet, this is exactly what Nicolas did last Friday!

Nico talked about all these competition law-related social events that are taking place in Brussels this week, without realizing that many of us have not been invited (I guess this was not on the piece of Social Do’s and Don’ts that he suggested on his post…)  😉

To compensate for my co-blogger’s mistake, I will free-ride on my firm to invite you to some free drinks extend a personal invitation to all readers of Chillin’Competition for THE competition law social event of the month in Brussels: the launch of the book “Market Power in EU Antitrust Law” (we had intended to write a review here, but our objectivity is so compromised that we will ask someone else better placed than us to do it) next Tuesday.

I’m not kidding; you’re all welcome to share a drink with us. You only have to confirm your attendance to the email address that appears on the invitation.

Hope to see you there!

P.S. Nicolas will miss it because he will be lecturing in Russia, so here is another incentive to come.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

15 March 2012 at 7:44 pm

Linkedln: A new book, a new case, and an “innovative” ground for exploitation claims

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The new book: Lorenzo Pace is the editor of a forthcoming book on The Impact of the Commission Guidance Paper on Article 102 which features contributions by a bunch of truly outstanding academics, namely Pace himself, Valentine Korah, Ernst-Joachim Mestmäcker, Catherine Prieto, Richard Whish, and Luis Ortiz Blanco together with Pablo Ibañez Colomo.  I´ve  had the chance to read some of the contributions, and they are frankly excellent. Keep an eye open for its publication.

The new case: L. Ortiz and P. Ibañez´s contribution in that new book emphasizes that a significant difference exists between the enforcement of the almost identical provisions on abuse of dominance at the EU and Spanish levels. In particular, they show that, in remarkable contrast to the record of the European Commission, as much as half of the total number of prohibition decisions adopted by the Spanish authority were of a “regulatory nature”, in the sense that they concerned exploitative practices put in place by undertakings enjoying or having enjoyed exclusive rights or operating in regulated network industries.

An investigation formally initiated yesterday by the Spanish authority seems to prove their observations right, and not only retrospectively: Telefónica Móviles, Vodafone and Orange are being investigated for having allegedly set excessive prices for wholesale origination and termination services for short SMS and MMS messages on their mobile telephone networks.

As reported on this blog, Telefónica was also recently sanctioned for having abused the collective dominant position that it enjoyed together with Vodafone and Orange  in the retail mobile telephone market. I am wondering whether the CNC will be attempting to bring this new case on the basis of a finding  of collective dominance on the wholesale market (seems unlikely, but remember the Irish case where ComReg decared O2 and Vodafone collectively dominant in the whosale market; that decision recently commented and criticized in the August 2010 issue of European Competition Journal), or will rather act the “Magill way”,  holding that each operator is dominant with regards to its respective  network.  

An innovative ground for complaint:  As harsh as the CNC´s attitude in relation to claims of excessive pricing may seem, things can always be worse:

The Bolivian government has announced the initiation of a probe on the rise of 50 cents in the price of Coca Cola. The reason why the government is reacting as if the price of a 1st need product had skyrocketed and might even order CocaCola´s bottler to cease its activities is simple: last year the government launched its own drink with the aim of competing against Coca Cola. They named their product: Coca Colla. Subtle, isn´t it? .  

Despite its appealing brand name the government-sponsored drink wasn´t a success, so Evo Morales´administration is now following an alternative path; i.e. investigating  their direct competitor for having increased its prices (even if it only did so in response to the 23% increase in the price of sugar approved by the government..). Aside from the fact that forcing a producer to stop production seems an interesting remedy to excessive pricing (aka restricting output), this is a genuinely innovative ground  for competitors to take action. Who would have guessed it?  Bolivia at the avant-garde of antitrust..

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

19 January 2011 at 8:45 pm

Gerber goes Global

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Back in the day, D. Gerber (University of Chicago) made a great job at describing the historical roots of the EU competition system and its inner theoritical logics.

More than ten years after, his book is still available for 265$ on Amazon.

If Gerber’s new piece is as influential as the first, it will surely win whatever competition prize exists and, very importantly, collect huge royalties.

See flyer hereafter: OUP UK Flyer 2010 (2)

Chillingcompetition received no copy, but others  apparently did and made a good review.

Written by Nicolas Petit

8 November 2010 at 8:08 pm

New Book on Standard of Review in Competition Law and Economic Regulation

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Oda Essens, Anna Gerbrandy and Saskia Lavrijssen (Utrecht University) have just edited a new book entitled National Courts and the Standard of Review in Competition Law and Economic Regulation (Europa Law Publishing). Once more, I cannot say much of this book because I am conflicted (I co-authored the Chapter on French judicial review).

Yet, the overall topic of the book is extremely interesting. In a nutshell, the whole point is to assess whether the ECJ’s Tetra Laval ruling, and the specific standard of review it encapsulates, has had repercussions on national judicial review practices. Congratulations to the editors for bringing this project to completion.

Written by Nicolas Petit

20 October 2009 at 12:01 am

New Book Out – Article 81 EC and Public Policy

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Chris Townley has just published a promising book entitled “Article 81 EC and Public Policy” (Hart Publishing).  I paste below the author’s description of his book.

The book explains how some of the most complex competition law cases can be understood. It also offers a framework for those fighting or deciding such cases in the future.  The argument comes in three parts. First, from a theoretical perspective, Part A discusses whether public policy considerations (such as public health or the environment) should be considered in European competition law. Contrary to the mainstream view, it concludes that this should sometimes happen. Then, Part B shows that, surprisingly for some, the ECJ/CFI and Commission regularly consider public policy in both Article 81(1) and 81(3) EC. I also explain how these decision-makers do this (including by distorting the consumer welfare analysis). Finally, Part C notes the incoherence of the case law described in Part B, and suggests ways to consider public policy that are more in line with the EC Treaty and also respect competition policy’s integrity. As such, it will be of interest to European competition lawyers, both academics and practitioners (furnishing them with a framework for hard cases), as well as students, seeking a deeper understanding of how the European competition rules work and how they interact both with European Union and Member State public policy goals. It will also help competition economists by revealing the mechanisms through which public policy considerations impact upon the consumer welfare test in European law.

Happy to do a  review, if the publisher sends me a copy.  And congratulations to the author.

Written by Nicolas Petit

28 September 2009 at 9:51 pm