2012 Conference Review – Second Session, Room 2

(review by Gyozo Pinter, CCP PhD Student)

Niamh Dunne (University of Cambridge)

In her presentation, Niamh criticises the Commission’s current practice of discounting regulated firms’ fines for breaching competition law.

She starts off by introducing the problematic nature of such cases. Competition law applies to firms that are regulated as well, to an extent they enjoy freedom of carrying out competitive conducts. Therefore, a breach of competition law can be established even if the conduct of the firm was required by regulation, as long as some possibility of independent action remained. From a legal perspective, when the Commission assesses a conduct it may find only two things: there was a breach of law or there was no breach of law, and within this framework the restricted freedom of the firm is not considered at all.   Appreciating the effect of regulation on the firms’ conduct in these cases (where “State Action defence” can be used) the Commission discounts the fine to an extent that it seems appropriate. So in the cases concerned, the Commission finds a breach, calculates the fine, and then discounts it by some percentage. The fact that regulation lowers the culpability of the firm and the severity of the offence is currently not appreciated. Meanwhile, the fines (due to such circumstances) were discounted significantly, for example in the Bananas cartel case by 60%, which suggests that the Commission understands that the firms just had a marginal playing field.

According to Niamh this shows, that the “one size fits all” solution is not appropriate, and the current practice of assessing this factor only at the last stage of the procedure is not satisfactory. This is because – having established that a firm breached competition law – the fine is only one negative consequence it has to face. Others, such as simply the legal finding of illegality, monetary fines (to a proper extent), a possible criminal prosecution, follow-on private actions and recidivism which might be an aggravating factor in subsequent competition proceedings are not addressed at all.   

 In the next step she analyses some alternative approaches, namely   regulated conduct immunity and regulatory gaming as a substantive competition law abuse which however seem also problematic. Therefore, she suggests a third one: integration of the regulatory assessment within liability and gravity assessment.

Ultimately, Niamh made three recommendations, which at least partially (except for the legal finding of illegality) remedies the problems of the current regime:

  1. The core competition law analysis should include the issue when the State Action defence is rejected, but regulation is likely to affect the firm or the market.
  2. The Commission should assess such circumstances substantially and consider the firms’ reduced culpability. From a procedural aspect this means that the question is addressed in the liability stage, and the basic amount of the fine should be calculated accordingly.
  3. In extreme cases where the discount exceeds 50% the Commission should justify on what basis does it establish the firms’ liability.

Known Unknowns – The total impact of competition law enforcement

Péter Ormosi (Norwich Business School and ESRC Centre for Competition Policy)

 In his presentation Péter undertakes to improve the currently used impact assessment methods for competition policy in respect of mergers.

He sets the scene with a set of questions: what kinds of mergers are the most harmful, and why is that they do not happen? The reason for this is that they are deterred by competition policy. A merger can be deterred for two reasons:

  1. two high expected legal fees,
  2. anticipated Competition Authority decision

This means that the most anticompetitive mergers are not even proposed to the competition authority. Still, currently most impact assessments do not take into account the deterrence effect. There have been some limited attempts to quantify the magnitude of the deterrence effect, however these were based on simple “headcounts” ignoring the fact that possibly the worst cases are deterred and, therefore, resulting in the underestimation of the issue.

Péter aims to show the full picture: the deterred and undeterred cases altogether, thereby portraying the full impact of the merger control regime. He uses the cases where the Competition Authority intervened as a sample (the “known” part) of the total population. In the next step he analyses what can be inferred of the total population (observed+deterred cases). Then he defines the position of the cases where the Competition Authority intervened in the total population. This is followed by an attempt to describe the total population by a functional form. Lastly, he analyses what can be established about the “unknown” part of the total population according to the information about the “known” part.

 Péter concludes that his way of assessing the issue is still not a fully developed cost-benefit analysis of the merger enforcement, but gives guidance about how the “unknown” benefits look like, thereby allows a better approximation of the total impact. This ultimately enhances the credibility of impact assessments as well.

An interesting note, which reflects the significance of the research, is that for example Crandall and Winston (2003, JEP) argue that cartel enforcement is practically ineffective, however considering the deterred cases as well, this probably cannot be claimed. 

 
Diminishing Enforcement: Negative Effects for Deterrence of Mistaken Settlements and Misguided Competition Promotion and Advocacy

 Francisco Marcos (IE Law School)

 In his presentation, Francisco argues that certain ways of using some recently available tools of competition law enforcement (settlements, leniency, competition promotion and advocacy) can result in more harm then benefit. This is because they can endanger the effectiveness of “regular” competition law enforcement, by reducing its deterrence effect, which is currently not taken into account.

Francisco acknowledges that these new tools can be beneficial: a bigger variety of possibilities may lead to better enforcement. However, this variety implies the need of focusing on the cross-effects between them.

His starting point is that the main tool of competition policy is a set of rules against some uni-or multilateral anticompetitive practices, which is generally called as ‘core’ competition or antitrust law. The main value behind these rules is their deterrence effect: through the sanctions of breaching those rules, they eliminate firms’ incentives of pursuing such anticompetitive practices.

A major problem with these rules is that their enforcement is problematic. Being aware of low detection rates and insufficient abilities for gathering evidence firms are no longer deterred. Leniency and settlements are aimed at solving this problem by incentivising firms to come forward with their evidence and to cooperate with the competition authority.

However, leniency programs are turned out to be most successful where the competition authority had a history of high detection rates and fines. While leniency enhances general deterrence and destabilizes cartels, it lowers specific deterrence as a cartel participant knows that it has an option of getting out the cartel with low (or no) fine by reporting it to the competition agency.

Then he moves on to settlements. The competition authority has weaker and stronger cases. Pursuing weak cases may not be efficient: because of its limited resources the authority should favour cases where success is more likely. Settling the case can be beneficial as it provides help when dealing with weak cases (in this respect leniency and settlements are quite similar: they both help the competition authority to save resources). However, there is always a trade-off with settlements: the firms under scrutiny are only willing to help the competition authority if they get some benefits in return (lower fines etc.). Knowing that the sanctions can be lowered by settling, however, ultimately reduces the deterrence. Accordingly, Francisco makes the following recommendation in respect of the settlement policy:

  1. it should be rejected in clear-cut and serious infringements
  2. it should only be applied for cases where the benefits exceed the negative effect arising out of loss of deterrence
  3. a case should not be settle at a too early or a too late stage
  4. third parties’ opinion should be taken into account
  5. settlement policy and practice should be as transparent and public as possible.

In terms of competition promotion and advocacy, Francisco agrees that competition authorities were successful in promoting competition in several markets. However, he argues that such tools should be avoided when regular competition law enforcement is possible: if there is a breach of competition law, political considerations should not lead the authority to abandon enforcement.

A key argument he makes is that while the competition authorities have considerable discretion to choose between different tools, as the authority’s enforcement reputation and fining history gives the basis of effective settlements, and competition promotion and advocacy, regular competition law should enjoy priority.

Furthermore, Francisco mentions the Spanish example, and argues that introducing too many tools, too fast leads to insufficient outcomes.

2012 Conference Review – Second Session, Room 1

(review by Antje Kreutzmann, CCP PhD Student)

After the lunch break, the CCP Conference continued with the second session. The second session was designed as parallel sessions with two sessions running concurrently. Each of the two session consisted of three presentations.

In Room 1, Kai Hüschelrath (ZEW Mannheim) was introduced as first speaker by Yan Li (CCP and Norwich Business School), who chaired this session. Kai presented joint work with Tobias Veith on ‘The Impact of Cartelization on Pricing Dynamics – Evidence from the German Cement Industry’. Their study concentrates on finding empirical evidence on pricing dynamics of hardcore cartels by analysing a unique private data set consisting of approximately 340,000 market transactions from 36 customers of German cement producers and combining those results with findings from a public data set, which was continuously collected by the German Federal Statistical Office. The paper aims to find out “whether and to what extent the pricing dynamics of cartel members and non-cartel members diverge during and after the breakdown of the cartel”.  Following a descriptive approach their study reveals that cartel members have a higher average gross price than non-cartelists and that cartelists reduce the net price to a larger extent then the gross price. Furthermore, it was shown that the difference in the net price development between these two groups is much smaller. After the breakdown of the cartel, the former cartelists decrease the net price significantly and the non-cartel members try to bring their net price into line with the cartelists’ price. The results found in their descriptive study are supported by an econometric analysis.

Then, Bruce Wardhaugh (Newcastle University) presented his research on ‘Cartel Control, Public and Private Sanctions: Lessons Europe can Learn from American Experience’. At first, Bruce gave a historical overview over the American system of cartel control by explaining the early public enforcement of the Sherman Act and the development of criminal enforcement and criminal sanctions.  He, then, highlighted important features of the American Civil Regime, for example, treble damages and class actions. According to Bruce, additional aspects for effective cartel control are the threat of individual and corporate punishment as well as “certainty of punishment”, which was introduced by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. Bruce believes that in contrast to the US, the private enforcement regime, the individual sanctions and the civil regime in Europe are too weak to control cartels successfully. He suggested, inter alia, the introduction of private damages in Europe to improve the European system of cartel control.

The third presentation was given by Morten Hviid ( CCP) on ‘Regulation vs. Self-help: A natural experiment’. This study, which was pointed out to be work in progess, is joint work with Sebastian Peyer (CCP) who was one of the co-organisers of this year’s conference. After a brief summary of the advantages and disadvantages of different level of enforcement through competition authorities, regulatory authorities or private firms, Morten turned to their natural experiment from the German energy market. The German energy market is a good example for studying regulation versus self-help as the regulator was established not until 2005. Before the introduction of a regulatory authority, the market relied on competition authorities and private enforcement. The analysis of their study shows that the number of private actions did not drop with the introduction of a sector regulator.

All of the three presentations where followed by thought-provoking comments. Unfortunately, due to a stringent schedule Yan Li had the unpleasant task to restrict the lively discussions to avoid an overrun of the allotted time.

2012 Conference Review – First Session

(review written by Scott Summers, CCP PhD Student)

The CCP’s 8th Annual Conference, entitled ‘What do Public and Private Sanctions in Competition Policy Actually Achieve’, kicked off with an enthusiastic introduction from the CCP‘s director Morten Hviid.  He welcomed all the attendees before proceeding to highlight the importance of the theme; namely, the interplay between private and public sanctions.

The first session of the conference focused on ‘Public Sanctions’ and was chaired by the CCP’s own Catherine Waddams. The first presentation was given by the OFT’s Amelia Fletcher, which was entitled ‘The right mix of sticks and carrots: the OFT’s review of its penalties and leniency policies’. This presentation looked at the recent consultations conducted by the OFT on revising the penalties and leniency guidance documents. The presentation began by setting the scene and explaining the meaning behind ‘sticks and carrots’ in this context. With a tasty picture of a carrot used to help! The first area Amelia addressed was penalties, and she began this by explaining the current 5-step approach utilised by the OFT in the setting of penalties in cases of competition law breaches. Amelia then highlighted why this consultation was necessary and what the key proposed changes of the consultation were. Amelia concluded this section by providing the audience with a flavour of the responses which the OFT received. The final section of the presentation focused on the OFT’s leniency consultation. Again, it began with a discussion of the reasons why this consultation had occurred. The presentation then proceeded to highlight the key issues and ideas resulting from the consultation. Amelia concluded the presentation by declaring that the OFT will continue to optimise its policies and that attendees needed to “watch this space” as the responses to the consultations should be published very soon!

Amelia’s presentation was swiftly followed with some comments from the CCP’s own Andreas Stephan. He highlighted the importance of the ‘mixed approach’ in regards to punishing and deterring cartels, and reminded the audience of the legitimacy of punishing anticompetitive behaviour; although, he was already preaching to the converted here!  This itself may seem unnecessary but, as Andreas explained, it was vital to remember why punishment for breaches of competition law is important. Andreas explained that sometimes we forget about the wider context of the law as we focus our attention specifically on this area of law. Andreas then moved on to provide a brief history of UK competition law, and then proceeded to highlight the necessity of a criminal offence. He concluded his comments by stating that there is “still a lot to do, but the foundations in the UK are very good”, and that “a mixed bag of tricks” is necessary as the policy is still in its infancy and we are unsure what works best yet.

The final presentation of the first session was given by Lee McGowan from Queen’s University, Belfast, and Eleanor Morgan from the University of Bath and was entitled  ‘Americanization of cartel provisions in the UK and EU regimes? Exploring criminalization and leniency’. This presentation focused on whether we can talk about the Americanisation of EU cartel provisions and used jurisdiction’s criminal offences and leniency programmes as potential examples of this convergence. Lee emphasised that when we talk about convergence it is important to know who is converging with whom and whether this convergence is merely coincidental or, alternatively, whether there is deliberate copying of legislation.  What followed was a brief overview of the origins of the US and UK offences, before a comparison was made between the two offences. Next, the US’s outreach programme of the 1990s was discussed, in a time where the US focused its enforcement activities on international cartels and engaged in encouraging other jurisdictions to tackle cartels. This section of the presentation concluded that there has been a partial Americanisation. This was owing to the fact that the UK had not directly imported the US model; although, some parts of the models were indeed similar. The next part of the presentation focused on a comparison of leniency programmes. This part of the presentation began with a brief history of the relevant jurisdictions’ leniency programmes, where specific mention was afforded to the possibility that DG Comp were observing the US approach from an early stage. It concluded that – in the beginning – the US and EU leniency programmes were substantially different. They are, however, beginning to converge more-and-more, despite certain key differences remaining, such as the EU’s failure to utilise the ‘mixed approach’. It was, however, questioned whether the EU would eventually start using the ‘mixed approach’ and thus the leniency programmes would converge even more.

After this presentation the attendees broke for lunch, where a delicious buffet feast was laid on by the CCP. Attendees enjoyed the food and mingled with others to discuss the first two presentations.

2012 Conference Review – Third Session

(review by Ed Ball, CCP PhD Student)

The third session of the conference began shortly after afternoon coffee, chaired by the Centre’s Stephen Davies, the session focused on deterrence.

Christine Parker, of Monash University Australia began by presenting:

“The futility of getting tough on corporate crime – lessons from the ‘war on cartels’”.

The paper is joint work with amongst others Caron Beaton-Wells and Fiona Haines, with the original research, inspired by similar work of the Centre’s Andreas Stephan, conducted under the auspice of the Melbourne Cartel Project with the aim to seek and assess how the arguably ambiguous goals of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are each achieved in practice, and whether compliance, and as such specific deterrence, therewith is different as between large and small businesses.

Such research was conducted by supplying some 1300 members of the public with differing competition related scenarios in order that an understanding of the public’s impression of the competition rules might be understood.  Results showed that the public opinion and what competition policy in Australia is actually seeking to achieve do not sit well with one another.  One of the starker insights showing that despite a realisation of the wrongfulness of some competition violations, there is still a significant downturn in public support for gaol as an appropriate sanction for such violations.

Similar scenarios were also supplied to just shy of 600 business persons.  From these it was seen that there was a much greater appreciation of the likelihood of sanctions for the various actions presented in the scenarios.  This ranged from knowing that fines are available for such conduct, through to such actions being criminal.  Nevertheless <25% of the business persons assessed knew that gaol is an available sanction for such conducts, yet in spite of this seeming shortfall in knowledge, there remained a significant variation in the appreciation of the legality of various competition related behaviours, and the corresponding sanctions available, as between the general population and business communities.  Business persons were also more likely to be correct in their estimation as to sanctions available than the general population.

One of the scenarios, seeking to assess perceived levels of detection and enforcement, detailed a market sharing example.  Some participants were told that the conduct detailed was criminal, while others were told it to be civilly actionable only.   Levels of perceived detection and enforcement were higher if the participants were told that the conduct was criminal as opposed to not being so.  Though even when told that the conduct was criminal there was still a low level of perceived detection and enforcement.  This became all the more interesting when the general population and business community answers were compared; again a significant increase was seen within the business community was seen.  It seems therefore that there are innate cognitive biases within the general population, as against absolute criminalisation, that are not present within the business sphere.  Such biases seemingly form a barrier against effective criminal deterrence.

The second part of the paper as presented by Parker involved more personal interviews with individuals who had actively been involved in civil litigation within Australia.  Such interviews included 25 participants in total, including 6 in-house lawyers of undertakings, with the remainder owners of businesses and other executive positions as appropriate.  2 participants were female (both in-house lawyers), with the remainder being male.

From these interviews the general controversy of competition enforcement in Australia can be seen.  The 25 were split into what Parker termed ‘innocents’ and ‘players’, representing small community businesses and big business undertakings respectively.

The ‘innocents’ typically comprised of small businesses who, prior to their litigation, had had no prior relationship with competition law, were generally unaware and somewhat naïve of the severity of their actions and corresponding consequences.  Often such businesses saw the various competition violations that they undertook as a normal management strategy for dealing with everyday business stresses; such a tone being noted as not one of the individuals concerned as being above the law, but the law in fact being above them.  As a consequence of such a stance and naivety, when caught, such small companies were not able to defend themselves with any vigour, nor it seemed were they able to fully comprehend why they had been punished so ‘severely’.  One such example where being where one individual prior to their hearing was expecting a fine of perhaps $500-$1,000AUS, when in fact they were fined $46,000AUS

A complete contrast to this was the ‘players’, who knowing the law and the intricacies of the ‘game’ going on around them were able to pre-empt various actions and consequently take appropriate actions to avoid the incurring of costs.  Failing this, strategies to divert bad publicity away from the company were often developed so as to limit the reputational harm as much as possible.  It was also noted that ‘players’ usually also had vast swathes of employee handbooks, in which often there would be found a competition compliance policy statement, which knowing the possible future ‘game’ to be played usually formed an advanced vanguard as against a case, enabling the directing of fault at individuals rather company itself.  Consequences of such preparation and knowledge of the likely courses to be undertaken often meant that ‘players’ could make efforts against a case as well as in mitigation, allowing the game to run its course – the end aim of which, from the ‘players’ perspective was to incur the lowest costs possible.

In sum, Parker noted that due to the cultural resistance of ‘innocents’ and the instrumental avoidance of ‘players’ effective criminalisation within Australia will be a long, complex and ambiguous journey.

Stephen Davies took questions from the floor, with an overall observation being that education, particularly at the level of the ‘innocents’ may well solve the issues outlined, or at least go some way in aiding the resolution of such issues.

Following this Davis introduced Cento Veljanovski, of Case Associates, who presented:

“Deterrence recidivism and European Cartel Fines”

The focus of Veljanovski’s paper fell about how the ability to discern a level of certainty within the European Commission’s fining policy would go a fair way to aiding deterrence as against recidivists.  Notably that there ought to be a fixed percentage increase in the  amount fined for those who commit second or later violations of competition law – concurrent offences were noted as not necessarily bringing about the recidivist’s increase, despite other literature adducing as such.

A comparison of the current 2006 fining guidelines and the earlier 1998 guidelines was also undertaken as to illuminate as to how the Commission actually arrives at the level of fine it does in cases, to see if any additional deterrence effect can be adduced as to further deter recidivists.

It was noted that the general aim of all fines, as noted at [4] in the fining guidelines is to deter undertakings from breaching the law.  Such guidelines containing provisions for both general and specific deterrence elements, as one might expect,  given the need to seemingly further deter those who’ve already be found to have breached competition law and appropriately punished.

The discussion detailed the extent to which the guidelines, despite providing estimations, formula and guiding steps which are to be undertaken during total fine evaluation failed to provide, with sufficient certainty, any overt or sufficient deterrence for recidivists.  Further encompassing discussion noted issues relating to how leniency seems to have increased over the intervening years, in combination with the absolute amount of fines having also increased quite significantly – the likely relation here was also noted.  Despite the increased certainty in outlining the procedure within the guidelines, effective deterrence and certainty itself was not always achieved and at times was dubious due to the Commission frequently departing from its own guidelines.

From these and other calculations and comparisons made within the paper the picture painted in relation to fining levels and effective deterrence – particularly for recidivists – is seemingly incoherent at best.  This however does not mean to say an absolute effective deterrence is unobtainable, even if it remains relatively incoherent, or even very far away for that matter, given other recent research in related areas.

Davies again opened the floor to questions, and following a number of observations and comments the third session, and first day, of the conference came to a close.

Delegates departed to St Andrew’s Hall in the centre of Norwich for the evening conference dinner and drinks – during the evening, delegates sung happy birthday to a member of the CCP’s staff, as Andreas Stephan celebrated his 21st birthday again, for an undisclosed consecutive time.

Response to OFT Consultation

Bruce Lyons has responded to “Review of the OFT’s Investigation Procedures in Competition Cases“.

View his full response here.

Have You Been Ripped Off By A Cartel?

Some of our PhD students took part in UEA’s 2012 PGR Showcase at the Forum in Norwich. This is the poster designed and presented by Richard Havell and Frederick Wandschneider. You can see them in action (briefly) in this clip from Anglia TV (01:22 in) and below.

A Beginner’s Guide to Competition Law

Some of our PhD students took part in UEA’s 2012 PGR Showcase at the Forum in Norwich. This is the poster designed and presented by Edward Ball, David Reader and Scott Summers.

2012 Conference Review – Fifth Session

(Review written by Burcak Yalcin, CCP PhD Student)

What is driving private antitrust enforcement? The German approach

Sebastian Peyer (Post doctoral research fellow at the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy)

In this paper the author aims to briefly clarify antitrust litigation in Germany and to point out some features of it that might facilitate private actions, such as low litigation costs and predictability of outcomes.

Due to this aim the paper employs data on 368 private cases which were concluded between 2005 and 2007. The data set shows that the vast majority of actions were stand-alone claims. Almost 60% of them were filed by consumers, whereas 18% were filed by competitors. Most of the allegations were about the abuse of market power (58%). However, there were also vertical restraints and some anticompetitive horizontal agreements (10%). Remedies utilised in the cases point to the fact that the plaintiffs preferred diverse civil law remedies. For instance, injunctions were the most popular remedies, whereas damage claims were the fourth most common ones after, respectively, voidness, and interim relief. The author suggests that the tendency that nullity applications are behind many antitrust actions in Europe seems to be followed in Germany with regard to the high ratio of voidness. With regard to the time that the plaintiffs spent in the court to obtain a decision, the data set indicates that the minimum time was one month, while the greatest time was 175 months. Besides, the data are spread around a mean of 17.01 months. On average, the time needed to complete the cases was roughly a year. Nevertheless, damage actions and claims for permanent injunctive relief took generally more time to be resolved.  

After this statistical knowledge the paper attempts to clarify several factors which might encourage individuals to take part in the private antitrust actions. These factors are:

  • Ex-ante predictable litigation cost: Litigation costs are low and predictable because of fixed recoverable lawyer fees and court fees which are calculated based on the value of the dispute or amount in questions.
  • Relatively quick decisions: On average all types of cases are concluded in 17 months, but generally damage actions take longer.
  • Alternative remedies: The existence of varies remedies that can be used by the plaintiffs may facilitate private enforcement. For example, damage actions are not cheap and simple remedies and might reduce the effectiveness of private actions. In contrast, injunctions which seem to be one of the key elements of the German system are easier and cheaper to be enforced by the court.[1] In addition, plaintiffs could ask the court to order a contract or contract clause if there is an infringement of competition law.[2] 

In the final stage, in order to improve the effectiveness of private enforcement, the paper suggests that first the process of judgements should be quicker and cheaper. Second, more attention should be given to the procedural framework, and the scope of reforms and the primary objective of private actions should be reconsidered. Third, alternative remedies to damage claims should be enacted.

 

Panel discussion: BIS Consultation on private antitrust enforcement

Anna Morfey (Freshfields Bruckhaus and Deringer LLP), John Holmes (Which?),[3] Iain Mansfield (BIS) and Sebastian Peyer (CCP)

After the presentation of Sebastian Peyer the Conference continued with a panel discussion on ‘BIS Consultation on private antitrust enforcement’. The first talk was given by Iain Mansfield (Assistant Director for Competition Policy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). He briefly clarified the scope of the consultation on private antitrust enforcement[4] and talked about the aim of the reforms as well as the role of the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). At the end of the speech he encouraged the delegates to share their ideas to effectively improve the reforms. He was followed by John Holmes (Principal Economist for Which?) who approached the reforms from the consumers’ point of view. The discussion session was closed with comments from Anna Morfey. She stressed the introduction of an opt-out collective actions regime for competition law to allow consumers and business to collectively bring a case to obtain redress for their losses.  

 


[1] Section 33 of the Act Against Restrictions of Competition

[2] Section 134 of the German Civil Code

[3] Which? İs an independent, non-for-profit consumer organisation and is the largest consumer organisation in Europe.

Review: New Researcher Workshop, 13th June 2012

(Review by Frederick Wandschneider and Gyozo Pinter, both CCP PhD Students)

 

CCP New Researchers’ Workshop – 13th June 2012

As part of a special event for those just starting out on their academic career, the Centre for Competition Policy brought together 11 PhD students and Post Docs from all across Europe. Just like in the previous years, the workshop’s aim was to provide an opportunity for researchers at the early stage of their career to present their research and to exchange experiences, ideas and future directions. Through presentations and vivid discussions, as well as a social event in the evening, the workshop allowed delegates to introduce themselves to fellow researchers in their field.

The theme of the workshop this year was “What do public and private sanctions in competition policy actually achieve?”, however all research in the issue of remedies (in a broader sense) was welcomed. Following the multidisciplinary character of research at the CCP, the workshop was attended by young scholars as well as senior faculty members from all core disciplines. The nature of the workshop offered the presenters the possibility of getting feedback on their research from academics looking at the issue from a different perspective, which can be a valuable input for further development.

The intensive academic programme covered large range of topics. These were:

Public Enforcement

• Ali Masadeh (Centre for Competition Policy) ‘Assessing Competition Authorities’ Performance: A Proposed Benchmark’

• Anna-Louise Hinds (National University of Ireland, Galway) ‘The Commission’s Settlement Procedure: Signs of Discrete Responsive Regulatory Enforcement?’

• Maria Ioannidou (University of Oxford) ‘Public competition law enforcement to the consumer interest: alternatives to private enforcement mechanisms’

• Matthias Hunold (Center for European Economic Research) ‘The design of cartel damage compensations’

Merger Control

• David Reader (Centre for Competition Policy) ‘The Commission’s Approach to EU Merger Control: What role for non-competition interests?’

• Manuel Alejandro Penadés Fons (University of Valencia) ‘The enforcement of behavioural remedies in EU Merger Control: Arbitration commitments revisited’

Industrial Organization

• Antoine Chapsal (University of Pompeu Fabra) ‘Repeated Purchases and Demand Foreclosure’

Leniency Programme

• Scott Summers (Centre for Competition Policy) ‘Pfleiderer’s access to Leniency’

• Baskaran Balasingham (King’s College London) ‘A Comparison between the Interaction of Leniency Programmes and Private Anti-Cartel Enforcement in Europe and the US’

• Panayiotis Agisilaou (Centre for Competition Policy) ‘Strategic antitrust authorities and leniency programs – A signalling game’

• Frederick Wandschneider (Centre for Competition Policy) ‘Ringleader Exclusion from Leniency Programmes – An Experimental Analysis’

Those who attended the workshop had the chance of hearing numerous fascinating papers presented and taking a part in some stimulating debates.

After the workshop CCP hosted a dinner for the attendees. Far from being exhausted, some delegates decided to watch the EURO 2012 football match in a nearby pub, which was a good opportunity for further debate and networking. Both the more experienced researchers as well as those in the first stages of their academic career expressed their satisfaction with the formula of the workshop, and by the end of the day many research ideas had been shared and contacts developed.

You can find photos of the day in our online album. Thanks to Scott Summers for taking them and making them available.

CCP New Researcher Workshop, June 2012

2012 Conference Review – Final Session

(review by David Reader, CCP PhD Student)

As the delegates returned to their seats for the final session on ‘Private and Public Enforcement’, there were high hopes for a grand finale to two days of rigorous debate and commentary. Chairing duties were left in the capable hands of Hussein Kassim (CCP), who began by inviting Angela Wigger (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) to present her research on ‘Neoliberalism Consolidated: The Example of Private Enforcement in EU Competition Regulation’.

It became evident from her opening slides that Angela was sticking to her political science roots. An early reference to Karel Van Miert, as well as a self-professed “shameless plug” of her political economy textbook, indicated that Angela was adopting the tried-and-tested formula on which she has established herself as one of the foremost commentators in her area. The audience were encouraged to adapt their perceptions of social-historical context, as the presentation charted the progression of neoliberalism within EU competition regulation: from the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ (1950-1970) to the economic decline of the 1970s and, ultimately, the ‘rise of neoliberalism’ in the 1980s and 90s. Angela’s suggestion that the ‘modernisation’ of EU competition law has merely sought to consolidate neoliberal beliefs proved intriguing and controversial in equal measure. Her belief that law firms have been the main beneficiaries of modernisation was, however, greeted with approval by some of the legal practitioners in the audience.

Following a short comfort break, the delegates reassembled for what they hoped was more of the same from the next speaker. Maarten Pieter Schinkel (ACLE) returned to make his second appearance at the annual conference, having first presented here in 2009. It proved a welcome return, as Maarten captivated the audience with his unique brand of “storytelling”. The evidence he presented proved very compelling and, although we must be patient before his research is disclosed to the public, it is no secret that Maarten’s presentation was one of the highlights of the two days.

As we entered the final hour of proceedings, Bob Feinberg (American University) took to the podium and jested that it was he who ‘stood between [us] and the weekend’. The audience were, of course, more than happy to wait as Bob talked us through his paper on ‘State Antitrust Enforcement in the US and Implications for Business Entry and Relocation’. Relying on census data and information obtained from a comprehensive database of state-specific case filings, Bob’s research drew a number of preliminary conclusions on the effects that state-level antitrust enforcement appears to have on entry and relocation behaviour by US firms. Bob’s distinguished career in both enforcement and academia proved particularly advantageous as he offered multiple interpretations of his findings. Despite finishing with time to spare, or in Bob’s words: “coming in under budget”, there was certainly nothing low-budget about his presentation. Indeed, it proved a fitting end to an eventful day.

And so the conference drew to a close and it was for co-organiser Andreas Stephan to conduct the traditional curtain call. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the efforts of Suzy Adcock, Leanne Denmark and Denise Eden-Rogers who had worked tirelessly to bring this year’s conference to fruition. Further thanks were extended to the CCP’s PhD and Masters students, who assisted with the organisation of the New Researcher Conference and volunteered their services over the course of the week. Special thanks were reserved for CCP Director Morten Hviid for the faith he had shown in Andreas and his fellow co-organiser Sebastian Peyer. One final round of applause signalled the end of an enthralling few days which had left everyone with ‘food for thought’.