Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

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Hotch Potch

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As you might have noticed, we took an unnanounced temporary break from bloggin’. First it was due to a particularly intense period of work (I might give more details about it in the future) and then to (my only…) week of Summer holidays during which I wanted to hear nothing about competition law [btw, I read these two very recommendable books (here and here), only to find out that the latter -a dystopian novel about tech companies- does refer to European Commission’s antitrust investigations as part of the plot…].

In between this break Chillin’Competition surpassed 750,000 visits  [I checked the stats and only in the past year we’ve had visits from 193 countries (exactly the same as the members of the UN)], which still today feels pretty surprising. We are however increasingly struggling to find the time to improve what we do here; at least in my case, this is proving a challenge (and it’ll be even more in the near future once the upcoming paternity reshuffles my priorities). This is to say that you should expect some significant changes in Chillin’Competition after the summer holidays, hopefully for good.We’ll explain this in more detail soon.

Nicolas -who will soon end his time at DG Comp- and myself discussed a bit about this yesterday when we met by surprise at a corridor of the College of Europe in Bruges; we were simultaneously lecturing in two contiguous rooms and hadn’t realized about it… By the way, I was lecturing to a group of very smart Chinese officials (pictured above) about EU Competition Procedure and Article 106 TFEU (the provision with the greatest unexploited potential in EU Competition Law) and very much enjoyed discussing with them (this in spite of -excellent- consecutive translation, which added a level of complexity to the conversation). In case anyone is interested, here are the two power points I used (although I’m afraid you might have trouble understanding much): EU Competition procedure (CoE-China) and Article 106 (CoE-China)  (many thanks, by the way, to Carlos Bobillo and Ana Balcells for taking care of these. One day they’ll realize that the main advantage of spending a few years at a law firm is that you can get someone to do your PowerPoints 😉 )




Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

9 July 2014 at 2:58 pm


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As reported earlier on this blog, Hong Kong recently joined the league of jurisdictions with a domestic competition regime.

On this occasion, CCH Wolter Kluwers organized a one day conference to discuss forthcoming challenges for the new law.

I was one of the happy many to be invited to the conference, together with a bunch of lawyers from Brussels, Beijing, Australia and the United States.

Now, our Hong Kong friends might be pondering how to apply their new law, they know how to throw a good event. Everything was perfect. Congrats’ in particular to Shirley Hon and Simon Bellamy for the superb organisation.

The level of the discussions was by all standards very high. You could tell the speakers had put time and energy in their presentations. Not the usual quick and dirty, taxi-drive preparation. I personally gave a talk entitled “New Challenges for XXIst Century Competition Authorities” where I identify 5 new enforcement challenges, and 4 new substantive ones. My ppt is available at the end of this post.

The after-conference evening was also a success. There was a cocktail reception, which was followed by rounds of free cocktails, courtersy of Kluwer (no kidding here). With a bunch of enthusiastic conference participants (including several speakers), we then moved to Lan Kwai Fung where we had a lot of fun. I then took a few days off, enjoyed the sun and did some trekking with an old friend who relocated there.

The bottom-line: it was a fantastic trip. And I must confess that since I came back, I have been looking once or twice if academic positions were available in the region…

Presentation – New Challenges for 21st Century Competition Authorities – HK [Mode de compatibilité]

Written by Nicolas Petit

7 November 2012 at 9:57 pm

Chinese Antitrust Law- The Year of the Rabbit in Review (Part 2)

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(As you will recall from last week, with occassion of the Chinese New Year we are publishing a year-in-review trilogy by our friend and “China correspondent” Adrian Emch. This is part two of Adrian´s review of 2011.  Enjoy!)

The investigation by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) into the practices of China Telecom and China Unicom had a significant impact inChina. It was one of these cases that people outside the antitrust community actually notice.

The reasons for the high-profile nature of the case may be manifold. For one, most consumers in China will have been a customer of one of the two, in one way or another. Two, the fact that an NDRC official talked to the press while the investigation was ongoing and said that the fine could amount to 1 to 10% of the companies’ annual turnover might have contributed to drawing attention to the case.  But, three, perhaps most significantly, the media’s focus on this case may stem from the fact that China Telecom and China Unicom are state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and very powerful ones at that.  Therefore, it is possible that the main reason for their interest in the case is the surprise, or even disbelief, that someone like NDRC’s antitrust officials would dare take on the two SOEs.

Hence, perhaps the most fundamental underlying question in the China Telecom and China Unicom case is whether and to what extent the Anti-Monopoly Law (AML) applies to SOEs – in law and in practice.  For the international audience, the answer to this question is important: if the AML were in practice not to apply to SOEs, then the targets of the agencies would be private Chinese companies and foreign companies.  For the former, many of them are young companies, which generally do not enjoy much support by the State.  So their market position inChina’s “transitional” economy may not be too prominent, as a general rule.  Which would leave …foreign companies as enforcement targets.

The fear that the AML would be used as a weapon against foreign companies was there from the very beginning of its enforcement.  So let’s take a good look to check whether or not this fear was justified.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

1 February 2012 at 6:45 pm

Some interesting and recent stuff

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There has been some interesting stuff going on in the past few days that we haven´t been able to cover. Here’s a brief (and subjective) account of some recent antitrust related news:

– Bill Gates has been (and at the time of writing he may well still be) testifying in a Utah Court in the framework of a case initiated by Novell. Novell is arguing that Microsoft encouraged them to develop WordPerfect software for Windows, only to later withdraw its support because WordPerfect competed with other Microsoft products. Judge Motz, who is presiding over the case, has reportedly expressed skepticism that Novell’s claims have merit.

– Chinese authorities confirmed that there is currently an ongoing investigation concerning a possible abuse of dominance on the part of two State-owned companies (China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom). The antitrust branch within the NDRC is investigating whether these two companies -allegedly dominant in the market for broadband internet services- may have been charging their competitors higher fees for broadband access while offering favorable prices to non-competitors. This is to our knowledge the first high profile abuse of dominance investigation since the Antimonopoly Law was enacted in 2008. The fact that it is targeting two State owned companies makes it particularly interesting. We’ll be asking our “Chinese correspondent” to keep an eye open for any possible developments.

– Here´s one that I´m following with particular interest: NBA players hired the very well known antitrust lawyer David Boies to represent them in their battle against franchise owners that has led to the NBA lockout. The players have now filed two class action lawsuits (one in Minessota and one in California, which are considered to be favorable venues) asking for treble damages (that is, triple the amount of the more than $ 2 billion they would´ve made this season). The lawsuits argue that the lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act” an hat the owners´ final offer for a new collective bargaining agreement would have “wiped out the competitive market for most NBA players”.  (For our comments on the very similar NFL precedent see here).

Giorgio Monti (Professor at the European University Institute in Florence and author of one of our favorite competition law textbooks) read our posts on Pierre Fabre and on the future of Article 101 and invited us to participate at a workshop in Fiesole on January 5th. Should be very interesting; we’ll give you more details in the coming days.

– Antitrust students at Berkeley have started their own Berkeley Global Antitrust Blog. Best of lucks to them!

-Finally, last week we received a couple of emails from readers that reveal that my co-blogger Nicolas is apparently becoming a celebrity. One reader told us about the fact that there is a Nicolas Petit street in Luxembourg, and another reader sent us a picture that shows that a young competition lawyer has a picture of Brad Pitt Nicolas above her desk (!)

See pic below for evidence. We´ll keep the identity of Nico´s fan secret in order to avoid any incidents with Ms. Petit ; )

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

21 November 2011 at 8:39 pm

A New Guest Blogger, a New Jurisdiction and a New Type of Unlawful Information Exchange?

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[Note by Nicolas and Alfonso: Chillin’Competition is going global. From now on, we will have guest bloggers of reference in major jurisdictions or regions other than the EU and the US. They will report regularly on what’s hot in their jurisdictions. Their posts will appear under 2 new categories: China Watch and Latin America Watch (new country/region sections will be created in the future). There’s so much interesting stuff going on out there that it would be a shame to miss it.  

A good friend, long-time reader of this blog and bright lawyer, Adrian Emch (Counsel at Hogan Lovell’s in Beijing) will be our correspondent for China (of course all the views expressed by Adrian here are strictly personal and not necessarily coincidental with those of his firm or clients). Now that you’ve been introduced, we leave you with him].

Welcome to the wondrous world of Chinese competition law! I am very honoured to join this blog and help it ‘go global’–to chill competition on a worldwide basis. As an avid reader of the blog from the beginning, I personally share many of Nicolas’ and Alfonso’s views, including the view that there is room for fresh ideas and even fun within the competition law world. So I am very glad to contribute to the debate on worldwide convergence (and divergence!), best (and worst) practices, etc. with blog posts aimed at enhancing cross-fertilization among Eurasian competition law cultures!

For this inaugural post, I have chosen at topic that falls within the heart of Nicolas’ and Alfonso’s obsessions expertise, namely exchanges of price-related data between competitors.  So it is not only an ideal topic to blend in, but also a very timely one. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the one-off information exchange meeting between the five Dutch telecoms operators held by the European Court of Justice to have engaged in cartel-like (?) conduct in the infamous T-Mobile judgment. As insiders know, 13 June is considered the date of birth of information exchanges as a new and basically independent antitrust discipline…

More importantly, how to deal with information exchanges is a question that many antitrust regulators are still grappling with in many jurisdictions beyond the EU. With this background, on 6 May 2011, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) –one of China’s three-plus competition authorities, with jurisdiction over price-fixing (among other things)– slapped a record antitrust-related fine (over €200,000) on Unilever. At first sight, the NDRC decision may seem to smack of old-fashioned industrial politics. But, at the same time, some might view it as cutting-edge antitrust enforcement.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nicolas Petit

13 June 2011 at 3:58 pm

Posted in China Watch