CCP Seminar: Challenging Criminalisation

We are delighted to be able to welcome Debra Wilson (University of Canterbury, NZ) as our guest this week. She will be presenting at the CCP seminar on Friday 30th November, where she will discuss her research on ‘Challenging criminalisation: Why cartel conduct does not warrant its priority for criminal sanction in competition law‘. A copy of Debra’s abstract can be found below.

Abstract

Statements that label cartels as ‘the supreme evil’ of competition law are commonly cited in any discussion on cartel regulation. If we accept such statements as being accurate, then criminalisation of cartels is an appropriate, even necessary and desirable, step. Criminalisation sends a clear message that society does not tolerate such conduct. But in order to accept such statements, we must be convinced that they are accurate, and not mere rhetoric used either to justify adopting laws in order to remain consistent with other jurisdictions, or simply language repeated so many times that its accuracy has ceased to be questioned.

 This presentation seeks to examine the ‘presumably noncontroversial’ position that cartels are the supreme evil of competition law, and thus deserving of criminal sanction. In a time when increasing numbers of countries are following the lead of the USA and introducing criminal penalties for cartel conduct, and some are preparing to test their provisions for the first time, it is important to ensure that these penalties are justified, and aimed at addressing the real  ‘supreme evil’ of competition law. It will reconsider the harm caused by cartels, and suggest that it is not the forming of the cartel itself which should be the target of criminal sanctions, but the actions of the cartel once formed, in using its new market power in a manner that is anti-competitive. As such, it can more correctly be seen that it is the abuse of dominance that is in fact the supreme evil, and therefore the appropriate target of criminal sanctions.

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