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Export Cartels: Is it Legal to Target Your Neighbour? Analysis in Light of Recent Case Law

Despite the growing sophistication of antitrust regimes around the world, export cartels benefit from special treatment: they are almost universally tolerated, if not encouraged in the countries of origin. Economists do not offer an unambiguous policy recommendation on how to deal with them in part due to the lack of empirical data. This article discusses arguments for and against export cartels and it identifies the existing gaps in the present regulatory framework. The theoretical part is followed by an analysis of the recent case law: a US cartel challenged with different outcomes in India and South Africa, as well as Chinese export cartels pursued in the USA. The Chinese cases are particularly topical as the conduct at stake, apart from being subject to private antitrust actions before US courts, was also challenged within the WTO dispute settlement framework, pointing out to the existing interface between trade and competition. While the recent developments prove that unaddressed issues tend not to vanish, the new South–North dimension has the potential of placing export cartels again on the international agenda. Pragmatic thinking suggests looking for the solution within the WTO framework.
Reference :

Marek Martyniszyn, 'Export Cartels: Is it Legal to Target Your Neighbour? Analysis in Light of Recent Case Law', 15(1) Journal of International Economic Law 181 (2012).

Inter-Agency Evidence Sharing in Competition Law Enforcement

While transnational antitrust enforcement is becoming only more common, the access to foreign-based evidence remains a considerable practical challenge. This article appraises considerations and concerns surrounding confidentiality, and looks into ways of their possible accommodation. It further identifies and critically evaluates the existing mechanisms allowing for inter-agency confidential information/ evidence sharing in competition law enforcement. The article outlines the shortcomings of the current framework and points to novel unilateral approaches. In the latter regard the focus is devoted to Australia, where the competition agency is empowered to share confidential information with foreign counterparts, also without any underlying bilateral agreement and on a non-reciprocal basis. This solution shows that a pragmatic and workable approach to inter-agency evidence sharing can be achieved.
Reference :

Marek Martyniszyn, 'Inter-Agency Evidence Sharing in Competition Law Enforcement', 19(1) International Journal of Evidence and Proof 11 (2015).

Leniency (Amnesty) Plus: A Building Block or a Trojan Horse?

Leniency (amnesty) plus is one of the tools used in the fight against anticompetitive agreements. It allows a cartelist who did not manage to secure complete immunity under general leniency, to secure an additional reduction of sanctions in exchange for cooperation with the authorities with respect to operation of another prohibited agreement on an unrelated market. The instrument was developed in the US and, in recent years, it was introduced in a number of jurisdictions. This article contextualises the operation of and rationale behind leniency plus, forewarning about its potential procollusive effects and the possibility of its strategic (mis)use by cartelists. It discusses theoretical, moral, and systemic (deterrence-related) problems surrounding this tool. It also provides a comparison of leniency plus in ten jurisdictions, identifying common design flaws. This piece argues that leniency plus tends to be a problematic and poorly transplanted US legal innovation. Policy-makers considering its introduction should analyse it in light of institutional limits and local realities. Some of the regimes which already introduced it would be better off abandoning it.
Reference :

Marek Martyniszyn, 'Leniency (amnesty) plus: a building block or a Trojan Horse?', 3(2) Journal of Antitrust Enforcement 391 (2015).

How High (and Far) Can You Go? On Setting Fines in Cartel Cases Involving Vertically-Integrated Undertakings and Foreign Sales

This article examines the recent developments concerning the treatment of internal sales (intra-group or captive sales) in the process of setting fines for violations of EU Competition Law. In particular, it looks into Guardian Industries, LG Display and InnoLux, in which the Court of Justice recognised the European Commission’s right to take into account internal sales, also in the transnational setting (when infringement-affected components are sold and incorporated into the finished products outside the EU), and to impose fines which more accurately reflect the scale and significance of the investigated infringements.
Reference :

Marek Martyniszyn, 'How High (and Far) Can You Go? On Setting Fines in Cartel Cases Involving Vertically-Integrated Undertakings and Foreign Sales', 37(3) European Competition Law Review 99 (2016).

"A Missing Step in the Modernisation Stairway – Any Role for Block Exemption Regulations in the realm of Regulation 1/2003?" with A. Sánchez

Block exemption regulations (BER) survived the modernisation of EU competition law. According to the Commission, they play a major role in the system instituted by Regulation 1/2003. Some authors consider that BER are conceptually hard to nest within the new system, but that they provide legal certainty. Others adopt a more critical approach and propose their axing. This paper adopts the latter approach. In view of the mixed messages that the Commission has been sending in the review of existing general and industry specific BER, this paper revisits the institution of BER, its justification and need in the decentralised system brought forward by Regulation 1/2003 and the more economic approach to EU competition law. After stating the initial justification for BER under the prior enforcement system, the paper stresses the difficulties for their fitness within the new paradigm, focusing on the distortions that they may generate for an effective and consistent enforcement of EU competition law. In order to complete the modernisation of EU competition law in a second wave (that is, as a consequence of the current revision of Regulation 1/2003), the paper recommends a clear-cut policy to abrogate all BER and to issue substitutive guidelines in exchange.
Reference :

together with A. Sánchez The Competition Journal, vol. 6/2, July 2010, pages 183-201.

Leniency and Criminal Sanctions: Happily Married or Uneasy Bedfellows?

This this chapter of the book Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion, the authors consider a range of theories that may explain the dynamics in the cartel leniency — cartel criminalisation relationship and, in particular, that address the question as to whether the relationship suggests a largely instrumental justification for criminalisation (that is, using criminal sanctions to bolster leniency policies), as distinct from a more normative justification (that is, using criminal sanctions to reflect and punish the harmful and delinquent nature of cartels). Whichever theory is favoured, the authors argue that the relationship is problematic, replete with ambiguities, tensions and contradictions that threaten the legitimacy and effectiveness of both competition and criminal law enforcement. In making this case, Harding, Edwards and Beaton-Wells canvas the fragility of the economic policy justifications for singling out certain types of cartel conduct for criminal treatment; the retributive compromise and foreclosure inherent in a leniency-driven strategy of enforcement; the ways in which leniency policy underscores and may even reinforce the otherwise immoral (cheating) behaviour said to attract the moral opprobrium associated with criminal sanctions; the ways in which leniency policy shapes and distorts the relationship between cartelists as prospective leniency applicants and competition authorities; and the potential for leniency policy to be ‘gamed’ by cartelists and the associated risk of business capture of the legal process.
Reference :

Christopher Harding, Caron Beaton-Wells and Jennifer Edwards, 'Leniency and Criminal Sanctions: Happily Married or Uneasy Bedfellows?' in in C Beaton-Wells and C Tran (eds), Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion, Hart Publishing, 2015, ch 12, pp234-260

Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion

Leniency policies are seen as a revolution in contemporary anti-cartel law enforcement. Unique to competition law, these policies are regarded as essential to detecting, punishing and deterring business collusion – conduct that subverts competition at national and global levels. Featuring contributions from leading scholars, practitioners and enforcers from around the world, this book probes the almost universal adoption and zealous defence of leniency policies by many competition authorities and others. It charts the origins of and impetuses for the leniency movement, captures key insights from academic research and practical experience relating to the operation and effectiveness of leniency policies and examines leniency from the perspectives of corporate and individual applicants, advisers and authorities. The book also explores debates surrounding the intersections between leniency and other crucial elements of the enforcement system such as compensation, compliance and criminalisation. The rich critical analysis in the book draws on the disciplines of law, regulation, economics and criminology. It makes a substantial and distinctive contribution to the literature on a topic that is highly significant to a wide range of actors in the field of competition law and business regulation generally.
Reference :

Caron Beaton-Wells and Christopher Tran (eds), Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Identifying Anticompetitive Agreements in the United States and the European Union: Developing a Coherent Antitrust Analytical Framework

Commentary in both the US and the EU has repeatedly debated whether, and when, it is more efficient to use “rules” or “standards” to determine the legality of conduct subject to the antitrust laws and how such rules or standards should be formulated. This paper concentrates principally on the question of how this debate impacts on the analytical framework for identifying infringing agreements in the US and EU. It sets out the view that the question of how agreements are to be assessed under both the US and the EU jurisprudence is unduly opaque. Confusion as to, in particular, the role and scope of per se rules, the role and scope of ancillary restraint doctrines, and how competing anti- and procompetitive effects of mixed agreements are to be balanced against each other have led to excessive complexity in the system. The paper considers what factors might shape development of a coherent and optimal framework for antitrust analysis in a jurisdiction. Once these factors have been set out, it examines how US and EU competition law have approached the issues identified in relation to the appraisal of agreements and what features of each system have moulded the developments there. It concludes that both systems require some development to create more intelligible frameworks based on common concepts rather than historical categories of antitrust analysis and, further, that competition agencies could play an important part as catalysts in this progress.
Reference :

[2017] Antitrust Bulletin, Forthcoming TLI Think! Paper 57/2017 GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2017-12 GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-12 King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2017-17

Regulatory Avoidance and Suicide: An Empirical Analysis

This article is the first to empirically analyze the impact of tort liability on suicide. Counter-intuitively, our analysis shows that suicide rates increase when potential tort liability is expanded to include psychiatrists — the very defendants who would seem best able to prevent suicide. Using a 50-state panel regression for 1981 to 2013, we find that states that would hold psychiatrists (but not other doctors) liable for malpractice resulting in a suicide experienced a 12.8% increase in suicides. The effect is even stronger, 16.8%, when we include controls. We do not believe this is because suicide prevention doesn’t work. Rather, we theorize that it is because some psychiatrists facing potential liability choose not to work with patients at high risk for suicide. The article makes important contributions to the law of proximate cause and to the more general phenomenon of regulatory avoidance. Traditionally, one could not be liable for malpractice that causes another’s suicide — the suicide was considered a superseding and intervening cause. About half of states retain the old common law rule. Others have created exceptions for psychiatrists only, or for all doctors, and some have abandoned the old rule entirely. Our findings suggest that expanding liability for psychiatrists may have an adverse affect. Accordingly, this article suggests that the best policy might be to retain or revive the traditional no-liability-for-suicide rule for mental health specialists. The implications are enormous: over 40,000 people in the United States die each year from suicide. Keywords: torts, suicide JEL Classification: K13, K32, I18
Reference :

Indiana Law Journal (forthcoming 2017)

Causation Actually

The article debunks the consensus that in concerted action, concurrent causes and alternative liability situations, the actual causation requirement is missing. While courts and scholars insist that in these cases tort law holds liable parties who clearly did not cause the victim’s harm, this article offers a novel approach. Using a simple model and applying it to leading decisions, it shows that a party who did not and could not even potentially injure the victim could nevertheless be a but-for reason for the harm. The article also challenges claims that causation theories like concerted action, substantial factor and alternative liability are fair to the victim or that they are designed to deter actors from engaging in “antisocial” activities. In deviation from the prior literature, this article reveals that these causation theories reduce the parties’ incentives to take care and result in more, rather than fewer, accidents. This article further shows that, despite lip service to the contrary, tort law promotes harmful activities that judges declare immoral, antisocial and illegal. The article argues, however, that in many cases this result can be justified on efficiency grounds. The article concludes that the but-for test should have a larger role in causation analysis, and it provides a number of policy recommendations to courts and lawmakers. Keywords: actual causation, concerted action, concurrent causes, alternative liability, but-for, substantial factor, NESS, efficiency, welfare, fairness, deterrence
Reference :

51 Georgia Law Rev. 1 (2016) (Lead Article)