‘Cartel Survey Project: The Sequel’

Our seminar series continues on Friday 28th May with CCP stalwart and survey supremo Andreas Stephan (CCP and LAW) presenting ‘Cartel Survey Project: The Sequel‘. Andreas is a Professor of Competition Law at the UEA Law School. He is an expert in cartel enforcement with a particular interest in the competition laws of emerging and developing economies. An abstract for his presentation can be found below.

Abstract

This presentation will give a summary of the results of the second Cartel Survey Project. This time questions gauging attitudes and awareness of price fixing and cartel enforcement were put to members of the public in the UK, Germany, Italy and the United States. The results present some surprising similarities in responses between these jurisdictions and suggest that the impact of enforcement on popular attitudes may not be as significant as previously thought.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 0.1.

This is the second occasion where Andreas has surveyed public perceptions to cartel activity. The findings from his first survey (of the British public) is freely downloadable here: Andreas Stephan, ‘Survey of Public Attitudes to Price-Fixing and Cartel Enforcement in Britain’ (2008) 5(1) Competition Law Review 123. [PDF, 309KB]

‘An Examination of Russia’s Anti Bid Rigging Policy’

Natalya Mosunova, a PhD Researcher at CCP and the UEA Law School, is at the Competition Law and Economics European Network (CLEEN) Workshop which, this year, is hosted by the Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC). Natalya is presenting her most recent paper entitled ‘An Examination of Russia’s Anti Bid Rigging Policy‘. An abstract for the paper can be found below.

Abstract

The research focuses on the ineffectiveness of cartel criminalisation in Russia, in relation to bid-rigging, investigating whether or not the causes are specific to Russia. The peculiarity of the case lays in the fact that criminalisation is a rather widespread and well-functioning mechanism in Russia. Criminal responsibility for anticompetitive conduct was adopted into Russian criminal legislation in 1997; however, criminalisation is an often overlooked instrument.

For the purpose of the research, the specific characteristics of collusive tendering have been defined. The paper investigates the role of criminal sanctions, among other types of enforcement actions, for this category of antitrust violation. Officials from the Russian Federal Competition Commission and from one of its regional offices were interviewed in order to understand the reasons of malfunctioning of criminal responsibility in bid rigging. The findings from interviews are supplemented by study of relevant cases and demonstrate that the lack of adjustment of legislation to needs of competition law, mismatch of anti bid rigging policy with social expectations and, mainly, resistance of the system of public authorities to eliminate the effect of cartel criminalisation. The paper’s findings help to assess the enforcement of existing law and the reforms.

 

‘What can the European Commission’s Direct Settlement Procedure learn from the US Plea Bargaining System?’

The CCP seminar series continues on Friday 20th May with the magnificent Scott Summers (CCP and LAW) asking ‘What can the European Commission’s Direct Settlement Procedure learn from the US Plea Bargaining System?‘. Scott is a PhD Researcher and Associate Tutor at the UEA Law School. He reads widely in the area of Competition Law with a specialist interest in cartels. His research also extends to Human Rights Law and his PhD thesis considers the extent to which EU cartel enforcement complies with the rights enshrined within the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of equal treatment. An abstract for his paper can be found below.

Abstract

Since 2008 the Commission has operated a settlement procedure for cases involving cartels. However, the uptake and use of this procedure has been slow; so far there has been a mere seventeen settlements. The EU settlement procedure has a variety of differences to that of the US plea bargaining system. The US system is utilised in more than ninety percent of cases. This paper therefore seeks to ask the question of what the EU settlement procedure can learn from the US plea bargaining system to help improve its utilisation, success and efficiency, whilst ensuring that it complies with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The paper begins by considering the cases that the Commission has settled so far under the procedure to identify weaknesses and procedural issues within the current approach. Then, the question of whether plea bargaining is compatible with Article 6 of the ECHR is deconstructed and analysed. Once it has been established that it is compatible, a discussion is had about the possibility of implementing such a system within the EU. The paper concludes by identifying ways in which the EU direct settlement procedure’s efficiency and utilisation can be improved whilst ensuring compatibility.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.03.

‘Public Interests and Competition in Broadcasting’

The CCP seminar series continues on Friday 15th May when we are delighted to welcome our distinguished guest, Paul de Bijl (Radicand Economics & WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management), presenting his paper entitled ‘Public Interests and Competition in Broadcasting‘. The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 0.1. An abstract for Paul’s paper can be found below.

Abstract

In many countries, the government intervenes in the provision of broadcasting services. For instance, the government may subsidize a provider of public service broadcasting. By doing so, it aims at addressing certain societal needs, or targets specific groups of listeners and viewers. The typical reason why the government steps in is that “the market fails” (although paternalism may also play a role). In some countries in Europe, such as Germany and the Netherlands, the government subsidy is not sufficient to cover the cost of public broadcasting. In order to generate revenues of its own, the public channel may then be allowed to sell advertising space. To make this work, the public channel’s programming typically has to include content that attracts a significant mass of viewers — otherwise the advertising revenues would not have enough substance. A direct consequence of watering down the public programming is that it undermines the public task, which was the reason for public intervention in the first place. In addition, the public channel starts behaving more like a commercial broadcaster. Thus, an indirect consequence of a mixed way of financing may be that it distorts competition in the market for commercial programming.

The paper (which is work in progress) analyzes a model of a mixed broadcasting market. I construct a simple model with one public broadcaster and two commercial broadcasters. The government maximizes social welfare by choosing the level of the subsidy for the public broadcaster. In response, the public broadcaster chooses the fraction of airtime devoted to commercial content. To the extent that the public broadcaster dilutes its public programming, it competes with the commercial broadcasters in the market for “regular” content. In a situation where there is a shadow cost of raising public funds through taxation, I look for the optimal subsidy level to finance public interest content, and will explore how this affects competition. In addition, I will incorporate “political economy” considerations that help to explain why the government may have strong incentives to avoid subsidizing public interest content.

‘AstraZeneca 2.0 – A unilateral pay for delay story’

The CCP seminar series continues on Friday 8th May with the inimitable Sven Gallasch (CCP and LAW) presenting his research on ‘AstraZeneca 2.0 – A unilateral pay for delay story‘. Sven is a Lecturer in Law at the UEA Law School. His main research interests lie in the intersection of competition law and intellectual property rights. An abstract for his paper can be found below.

Abstract

Agreements in the pharmaceutical sector by which the brand pharmaceutical company pays the generic entrant to stay off the market as part of a patent settlement, so-called pay for delay settlements, are currently at the centre of attention of the European Commission at the moment, with decisions against Lundbeck and Johnson & Johnson and Servier. Predominately, the European Commission’s current enforcement efforts so far rest on Art. 101 TFEU, similar to the longstanding enforcement against these types of agreements in the United States. The antitrust scrutiny in the United States is based on the fact that a pay for delay settlement between a brand company and a single generic company can foreclose the entire market concerned.

In Europe, however, actual market foreclosure based on the pay for delay settlement itself is only possible in a small number of cases and only with very limited anticompetitive potential compared to the situation in the United States. This reduced anticompetitive potential arises from the differences in the European regulatory framework, which does not block subsequent generic entrants despite the conclusion of a pay for delay settlement in the market.

However, it would be misleading to think that pay for delay settlements have no anticompetitive potential in Europe. This article aims to extend the common understanding of the anticompetitive nature of pay for delay settlements in Europe. It argues that the brand company can cause significant consumer harm by using pay for delay settlements as a means to achieve broader unilateral anticompetitive conduct, such as product hopping, akin to the second abuse in the AstraZeneca judgment.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 0.1.