Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for the ‘Journals’ Category

The Law of Unintended Consequences

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With rising fines for antitrust violations, there’s been a lot of fuzz about the adequacy of the current EU penalty system.

The EU fines system is generally lambasted on two counts. First, it would be inefficient because the average level of fines currently slapped by competition authorities would still be far below the optimal deterrence level. Second, it would be unfair because it targets companies as a whole, rather than the individuals which have secretly engaged into unlawful conduct. In so doing, administrative fines would thus harm a range of third parties (shareholders, workforce, etc.) which have nothing to do with the infringement. Interestingly, increasing fines to satisfy the efficiency concern would further exacerbate the unfairness concern.

The upshot of this has been a renewed interest for alternative penalties (director disqualification, individual fines, etc.). In a recent paper published in ECLR, our esteemed colleague Prof. Alan Ryley (City University London) puts forward a creative, and somewhat radical proposal:

Thirdly, the expulsion of aliens from EU territory: Most international business executives need to be able to travel into the European Union, the world’s largest single market. Prohibition from entering EU territory for a term of years would make it difficult for them to act as senior level executives, as well as significantly damaging their reputations.

Now a question: beyond preventing business executives from making Xmas shopping in Paris and London – which I do not view as a particularly strong deterrent – I fail to see how this could really dissuade guilty alien executives to operate cartels within the EU. Paradoxically, those executives will be increasingly incentivized to negotiate cartels targeted at the EU outside of the European territory, with the unintended side-effect that the Commission’s will face mounting difficulties to gather evidence of unlawful conduct.

The full reference of Prof. Riley’s excellent paper is “The modernisation of EU anti-cartel enforcement: will the Commission grasp the opportunity?”, E.C.L.R. 2010, 31(5), 191-207, 2010.

Thanks to my assistant N. Neyrinck and my student B. Boggaerts for the pointer.

The picture above is taken from one of the worst French movies ever.

Written by Nicolas Petit

15 February 2011 at 9:46 pm

A publication, an information and an explanation

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My paper on competition authorities’ enforcement discretion has just been published in Concurrences. Amongst the various papers I published to date, I am really proud of this one. The reason?  It embodies all the things which make research, and academic life, a thrilling job:

  1. It forced me to conduct research on a largely unchartered topic, and to propose an original – at least I believe – conceptual framework;
  2. I benefited from strong empirical input received from more than a dozen national reporters;
  3. The LIDC annual congress – for which I prepared the paper – was a great moment in a wonderful town. I met loads of fascinating people during the congress;
  4. We eventually managed, on the basis of this paper, to draft public policy proposals, which were eventually sent to competition authorities.

As to the information: the next LIDC congress will take place in Bordeaux (France), from 30 September to 3 October. To all those interested in learning how competition law and a Lafite Rotschild combine, I recommend the conference. A specific website has been created to advertise the conference.

Finally as the explanation: the past days have been increasingly busy. This explains the belated posting activity on the blog.

Written by Nicolas Petit

8 February 2010 at 4:07 pm

New Entry in the Market for Competition Law Journals

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I heard in Vienna that Oxford University Press (OUP) will be launching in 2009 the Journal of European Competition Law & Practice. This new bi-monthly journal intends to have a strong practical flavour. It will be edited by T. Lubbig and P. Nihoul and seeks, from what I am told, to compete head-to-head with the well-known European Competition Law Review (ECLR) from Sweet & Maxwell.  Yet, I understand that ECLR has lately focused a lot on national competition law, and that this journal’s purpose is to deal primarily with EC competition law.

Interestingly,it ought to be noted that this new journal is not pure, greenfield, entry for OUP, but expansion with a new title besides, amongst others, OUP’s Journal of Competition Law and Economics (JOCLE). Whilst some may think that OUP’s move is not necessarily safe because the new journal may partly eat away some of the JOCLE readership, I understand the two journals are not substitutes, but complements (with the JOCLE focusing primarily on longer studies, with a stronger scientific, economic and comparative – EC/US – flavour).

My feeling is that OUP’s agressive, ambitious, expansion strategy should be welcome. I have indeed often deplored the paucity of european competition law journals. Let’s just hope that the pricing of this new title will be affordable.

Written by Nicolas Petit

26 October 2009 at 7:18 am