‘Reconceptualising deterrence within competition policy’

Only three more sessions remain in our Autumn seminar series, including the tantalising prospect of some distinguished guest speakers. On Friday 11th December, we are delighted to welcome back the ever-enthralling Jonathan Galloway (Newcastle Law School), who presented at our Annual Conference back in 2007. Jonathan is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Newcastle University and an expert in Competition Law. His research interests include the intersections of competition law (particularly its relationship with politics, innovation, and industrial policy), international convergence, and cooperation between competition authorities.

Jonathan will be presenting one of his current research projects, entitled ‘Reconceptualising deterrence within competition policy‘. An abstract for his paper can be found below.

Abstract

Competition authorities, and the politicians who hold them to account, primarily rely upon deterrence theory in order to achieve their objective of preventing anti-competitive behaviour. Broad trends of increased severity of sanctions, particularly for cartel behaviour, are easily observable and yet it is far from clear that the deterrence led approach is effective. Heightened severity of sanctions, and heightened probability of sanction, facilitated in part through the operation of leniency, ought to prevent recidivism and also lead to lower levels of infringements as part of a successful deterrence strategy, yet there is little evidence to suggest this is taking place. Efforts to ‘double down’ on deterrence through introducing individual sanctions in jurisdictions such as the UK can be useful but are unlikely to provide a complete answer in order to prevent anti-competitive behaviour. This paper will argue that deterrence should continue to be an important driver of competition authorities’ enforcement strategy, but that it should be framed within an overarching strategy of regulatory compliance, which affords greater priority to individual accountability, and embraces insights from behavioural economics in order to foster the creation of a competition culture and so as to align the incentives between corporation and individual.

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).

CCP Seminar: How should LIBOR rigging be dealt with?

The CCP seminar series returns for its Spring semester outing on Friday 11th January with our very own Andreas Stephan (CCP and UEA Law School) presenting his research on ‘How should LIBOR rigging be dealt with?’. A copy of Andreas’ abstract can be found below.

Abstract

This paper focuses on the LIBOR rigging scandal, in which banks are alleged to have under-reported and over-reported the interest rates at which they could borrow money. This manipulation and distortion of the LIBOR rate could potentially have had an effect on as many as £500 trillion worth of financial transactions, and has attracted significant fines, criminal investigations and private actions for damages. The main purpose of this paper is to ask how Libor Rigging should be dealt with. This includes an assessment of whether it is a competition law problem, whether the necessary legal prohibitions and sanctions currently exist, and whether the problem warrants a punitive, regulatory or mixed response.

Consumer focus for University of East Anglia competition conference

The press release for our conference next week:

A conference on anti-competitive business practices such as price-fixing and bid-rigging will take place at the University of East Anglia next week.

The Office of Fair Trading has uncovered high-profile cases including sales of replica football kits, airline price-fixing, and bid-rigging in the construction industry – resulting in multi-million pound fines for companies involved.

The two-day event will focus on how consumers, who pay over the odds as a result of such practices, can successfully claim compensation.

The conference has been organised by the university’s ESRC Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) and will see an international line up of economic, law, and political experts talking about their research and experience.

Speakers will include John Holmes from Which? magazine and Iain Mansfield, assistant director of competition policy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Dr Andreas Stephan, from the Centre for Competition Policy at UEA, said: “There are a number of obstacles for consumers claiming compensation. In particular, the financial loss is typically shared between a large number of consumers. But while individual losses might be small, the cumulative loss to the economy is potentially enormous.

“The problem in the UK is that we don’t allow for collective legal actions on an ‘opt-out’ basis.

“When the consumer group Which? attempted to sue for compensation over replica football kits it was unsuccessful because of the cost of identifying affected victims and getting them to sign up.

 “In the US however, lawyers are able to sue on behalf of a group of consumers without each consumer needing to specifically ‘opt in’ to the legal action.

“The UK government is currently consulting on such a system, which would make it much easier to sue companies for anti-competitive practices.”

Iain Mansfield (BIS) will lead a panel discussion on the government’s consultation at the event.

The conference, entitled ‘What Do Public and Private Sanctions in Competition Policy Actually Achieve?’ takes place on June 14-15 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre at UEA.

The conference has been organised by Dr Sebastian Peyer (CCP Post Doctoral Research Fellow) and Dr Andreas Stephan (CCP Member, Senior Lecturer in LAW). We still have some places available, if you’d like to attend you can find out more here.

CCP conference

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.