‘Recent Competition Policy and Law Developments in China and Hong Kong’

After a short break, the CCP Seminar Series returns in 2016 with another inspiring line-up of presentations on competition policy (you can find out more by clicking here). On Friday 8th January 2016, we are delighted to welcome Mark Williams (Asian Competition Forum and Melbourne Law School) who will be kicking-off the year with his dissection of the ‘Recent Competition Policy and Law Developments in China and Hong Kong‘. Mark is the Executive Director of the Asian Competition Forum, as well as a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne Law School where he teaches inter alia competition law and Hong Kong company/commercial . An abstract for his seminar can be found below.

Abstract

Mainland China brought the Antimonopoly Law into force in 2008. The intensity of enforcement has increased markedly in the last two years, especially in relation to business conduct within its territory as opposed to global mergers that have some effect on Chinese markets. Whilst the application of the merger rules has been relatively orthodox, there has been increasing concern about the activities of the NDRC and SAIC with regard to ‘price monopoly’ cases. Transparency and due process issues have caused considerable anxiety, especially amongst the international business community and it is noteworthy that there have been no judicial appeals against any decision of the Chinese agencies since the antitrust system became operational. In Hong Kong, which retains its separate common law -based legal system, the Competition Ordinance only became fully operational on 14 December 2015. This structurally flawed system, that has no merger control provisions save in the telco sector, and adopts a judicial enforcement model, is, necessarily, wholly untried. This seminar will concentrate on recent developments in both systems and the challenges they face to attain international credibility.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.03. Tea will be provided directly afterwards in the MBA Café (TPSC, Floor 2).

‘Endogenous antitrust enforcement and strategic cartel pricing: Experimental evidence’

The next presentation in our Autumn seminar series takes place on Friday 6th November, with the return of Carsten Crede (CCP and ECO) who will be presenting ‘Endogenous antitrust enforcement and strategic cartel pricing: Experimental evidence‘, a joint project with Liang Lu (CCP and ECO). An abstract for his presentation can be found below.

Abstract

We experimentally examine the effects of endogenous antitrust enforcement, i.e. an enforcement that increases in the cartel overcharge, on cartel prices and stability. With a novel experimental design, we capture the non-profitability-related strategic effects of cartel pricing as a reaction to the endogenous punishment. By allowing self-selection of the cartel into expected low punishment, endogenous enforcement is effective when both fine and detection probability are sufficiently high. However, it may render deterrence less effective if fines are not sufficiently high, suggesting that the substitutability with respect to deterrence between fines and detection probabilities is limited. Nevertheless, both enforcement elements have welfare implications due to strategic effects: whereas high fines directly reduce cartel formation and undermine stability, high detection probabilities decrease the longevity of existing cartels and with it their economic harm.

The seminar will take place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 2.03. To find out about the other seminars in this series, visit the seminar pages on our website.

Amelia Fletcher awarded OBE for services to Competition and Consumer Economics in the New Year honours list 2014

Amelia Fletcher CCP is delighted to learn that Amelia Fletcher was awarded OBE for services to Competition and Consumer Economics in the New Year honours list 2014.  This is a well-deserved recognition of the work Amelia has put in over the years to help markets work better for consumers.  

We are very pleased that she brings this recognised expertise to work on similar issues within CCP.

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.

What Do Public and Private Sanctions in Competition Policy Actually Achieve?

14th and 15th June sees CCP’s Annual Conference take place at UEA.

This year we are in plush new surroundings in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, home to Norwich Business School.  We are bringing together experts from the USA, Australia and Europe to discuss these developments from an economic, legal and political science perspective.

The speakers will provide a framework for appraising at the effects and achievements of public and private sanctions in the UK and the EU. Topics include the current approach to cartel sanctions, leniency and the interplay of public and private enforcement. In addition, the conference seeks to stimulate the discussion about the ongoing consultation on private antitrust enforcement in the UK.

The conference dinner this year is being held in Blackfriars’ Hall in Norwich. Accommodation is available in the City near the venue and a coach will take delegates back up to UEA the morning after.

You can book here.