Article

Relative Dominance and the Protection of the Weaker Party: Enforcing the Economic Dependence Provisions and the Example of Greece

A number of EU counties have adopted specific rules on the abuse of economic dependence: Germany , France , Italy , Portugal , Czech Republic and Greece. In most countries the economic dependence provisions are included in the respective competition act and are more or less conceptually associated with the notion of abuse of dominance. In Greece, the provisions regarding economic dependence formed part of the former Competition Act. Notably, the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) received, in the 12 years of its competency for the enforcement of said provision, numerous complaints and issued over forty economic dependence decisions - mostly dismissing the respective claims. Due to this burden on the authority , and also because it was too often invoked by enterprises with only minor impact on competition and, more often than not, involved private disputes which could have easily been resolved by civil courts, it was abolished from the Competition Act in the year 2009. Voices from the legal theory had seconded this development expressing concerns about the private interests of the weaker party which the provision sought to protect, unlike the main goals of competition law . As a result, the economic dependence provision was transferred to Law 146/1914 on Unfair Competition Practices. When a particular provision changes position, it is interesting to see what the effect on its application may be. Possible changes include changes in the requirements of a provision, its legal consequences (sanctions, commitments etc.), protection scope, and other conditions of enforcement. In this regard, the paper builds on the Greek example to touch upon a number of points of interest for European law enforcement, and in particular: How does the inclusion or exclusion of a particular provision from the competition act affect its enforcement? Which would be an optimal allocation of responsibilities between private parties, the courts and competition authorities in relative abuse of dominance cases? Is the division between unfair trade practices and competition law entirely clear? And finally, how does the aim of competition law to protect competition versus competitors affect the application of the respective provisions?
Reference :

Journal of European Competition Law & Practice, Volume 8, Issue 9, 1 November 2017, Pages 579–585,

Reverse Payment Patent Settlements in the Pharmaceutical Sector Under EU and US Competition Laws: A Comparative Analysis

Within the tool-box developed by originator companies in order to prepare and respond to generic entry, a prominent position must be recognized to a category of patent strategies particularly controversial under antitrust scrutiny, i.e. patent settlement agreements, in particular in the form of reverse payment patent settlements (also called pay-for-delay settlements), due to the fact that they provide for the patentee to pay the alleged infringer, rather than the opposite, with the aim of delaying its market entry. It is a fact that reverse payment settlement agreements arise mainly in the pharmaceutical industry. The article firstly analyses US and EU regulatory frameworks in order to highlight similarities and differences between them. Then, it examines the relevant case law in both contexts with a view to conducting a comparative study. Finally, the article discusses the approaches to reverse payment patent settlements adopted by antitrust authorities and courts and their clashes with intellectual property law, and contains a final proposal for the assessment of these agreements.
Reference :

Colangelo, Margherita. ‘Reverse Payment Patent Settlements in the Pharmaceutical Sector Under EU and US Competition Laws: A Comparative Analysis’. World Competition 40, no. 3 (2017): 471–504.

Margin Squeeze: Where Competition Law and Sector Regulation Compete

This paper starts with an overview of the different ways in which an undertaking can abuse its dominant position through pricing and then zooms in on margin squeeze. We start by defining margin squeeze, and then take a thorough look at its assessment framework. It is examined why some undertakings appear to be more susceptible to this abuse than others. The paper subsequently investigates the place of margin squeeze in the European legislative framework, considering which kind of antitrust abuse margin squeeze could be and how the ECJ currently conceives it. Finally, we explore the interaction of the competition law approach with the regulatory approach to margin squeeze.
Reference :

Friso Bostoen, 'Margin Squeeze: Where Competition Law and Sector Regulation Compete' (2017) 53 Jura Falconis 3.

Parity Clauses and Competition Law in Digital Marketplaces: The Case of Online Hotel Booking

Recent case law concerning intermediation activity in digital markets shows that one of the key concerns of competition authorities is the use by online platforms of a type of agreement generally traced to the category of Most Favoured Nation clause (MFN), typically included in B2B long-term contracts, where the supplier undertakes to guarantee the best price conditions to the intermediary concerned as compared with any other dealer. The competitive assessment of such clauses (also known as parity clauses) is controversial in both traditional and digital markets. At first sight, they appear to offer potential benefits to consumers, at least in terms of price transparency and reduction of transaction costs; however, they also give rise to competition concerns, as they may serve to acquire or strengthen monopoly pricing. Their recurrence in the digital environment has revitalized an ongoing debate on the likely effects of these clauses on competition. The article first analyzes the business models adopted by intermediaries in e-commerce and the concerns that have arisen under competition law, with particular regard to the increasing use of some forms of MFN clauses. The analysis is conducted in the light of several cases in the field of online hotel booking brought before national competition authorities (NCAs) for alleged violation of competition rules. The article then questions the theories of harm and the main critical issues deriving from such case law, highlighting the difficulties hidden in the adoption of a generalized approach in the competitive assessment of the clauses at issue.
Reference :

M. Colangelo, Parity Clauses and Competition Law in Digital Marketplaces: The Case of Online Hotel Booking, (2017) 8 (1) Journal of European Competition Law & Practice 3-14 (published online on 27/07/2016)

Regulating Supermarkets: The Competition for Space

This paper shows how supermarket location, size and format are regulated privately by major supermarket chains and publicly by government planning and competition agencies. The inquiry is spurred by the tenacity of the competition policy prescription that public regulation of supermarket siting be wound back so that private regulation has a free hand. Having conducted case studies in the field, within a framework of regulatory studies, the paper finds that public regulation is often only a mild restriction on private strategies to site. Yet public regulation, and land-use planning law especially, remains a crucial point at which collective processes and social values may exert an influence over food provision and the social spaces of our suburbs and towns. The paper recommends that regulatory law reform be holistic rather than narrow minded.
Reference :

Christopher Arup, Caron Beaton-Wells and Jo Paul, 'Regulating Supermarkets: The Competition for Space' (2017) University of New South Wales Law Journal (forthcoming)

Problematising Supermarket-Supplier Relations: Dual Discourses of Competition and Fairness

The power asymmetryies that exists between major supermarket chains and suppliers, in Australia and abroad, have has been analysed largely through an economic-legal lens, focussed predominantly on consumer prices. This article takes a wider stance, considering the economic and then the social discourses that arise in response to the supermarket-supplier relationship, before examining how such discourses shape regulatory responses. We find that the two are not, as they appear on first blush, disconnected or in conflict. Rather, as with many socio-economic interactions, they are connected and interdependent. Applying a problematisation analysis, we interrogate the underlying assumptions and question the ways in which the issues relating to the imbalance in bargaining power between major supermarkets and suppliers are framed in mainstream policy debates, and then consider the implications. On our analysis, the problem that this imbalance is seen to pose has dimensions of both competition and fairness, creating challenges that require a range of responses. It is thus a problem that can be tackled by appealing to the traditional platforms of both the left and right of politics. A dual discourse also facilitates effective political risk management. While a neoliberal approach allows government to be seen as promoting competition to maximise efficiencies and consumer welfare, tough measures on socially unacceptable behaviour enables government to align with important social-cultural values.
Reference :

Caron Beaton-Wells and Jo Paul, 'Problematising Supermarket-Supplier Relations: Dual Discourses of Competition and Fairness' (2017) Griffiths Law Review (forthcoming)

Identifying Anticompetitive Agreements in the United States and the European Union: Developing a Coherent Antitrust Analytical Framework

Commentary in both the US and the EU has repeatedly debated whether, and when, it is more efficient to use “rules” or “standards” to determine the legality of conduct subject to the antitrust laws and how such rules or standards should be formulated. This paper concentrates principally on the question of how this debate impacts on the analytical framework for identifying infringing agreements in the US and EU. It sets out the view that the question of how agreements are to be assessed under both the US and the EU jurisprudence is unduly opaque. Confusion as to, in particular, the role and scope of per se rules, the role and scope of ancillary restraint doctrines, and how competing anti- and procompetitive effects of mixed agreements are to be balanced against each other have led to excessive complexity in the system. The paper considers what factors might shape development of a coherent and optimal framework for antitrust analysis in a jurisdiction. Once these factors have been set out, it examines how US and EU competition law have approached the issues identified in relation to the appraisal of agreements and what features of each system have moulded the developments there. It concludes that both systems require some development to create more intelligible frameworks based on common concepts rather than historical categories of antitrust analysis and, further, that competition agencies could play an important part as catalysts in this progress.
Reference :

[2017] Antitrust Bulletin, Forthcoming TLI Think! Paper 57/2017 GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2017-12 GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-12 King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2017-17

Regulatory Avoidance and Suicide: An Empirical Analysis

This article is the first to empirically analyze the impact of tort liability on suicide. Counter-intuitively, our analysis shows that suicide rates increase when potential tort liability is expanded to include psychiatrists — the very defendants who would seem best able to prevent suicide. Using a 50-state panel regression for 1981 to 2013, we find that states that would hold psychiatrists (but not other doctors) liable for malpractice resulting in a suicide experienced a 12.8% increase in suicides. The effect is even stronger, 16.8%, when we include controls. We do not believe this is because suicide prevention doesn’t work. Rather, we theorize that it is because some psychiatrists facing potential liability choose not to work with patients at high risk for suicide. The article makes important contributions to the law of proximate cause and to the more general phenomenon of regulatory avoidance. Traditionally, one could not be liable for malpractice that causes another’s suicide — the suicide was considered a superseding and intervening cause. About half of states retain the old common law rule. Others have created exceptions for psychiatrists only, or for all doctors, and some have abandoned the old rule entirely. Our findings suggest that expanding liability for psychiatrists may have an adverse affect. Accordingly, this article suggests that the best policy might be to retain or revive the traditional no-liability-for-suicide rule for mental health specialists. The implications are enormous: over 40,000 people in the United States die each year from suicide. Keywords: torts, suicide JEL Classification: K13, K32, I18
Reference :

Indiana Law Journal (forthcoming 2017)

Causation Actually

The article debunks the consensus that in concerted action, concurrent causes and alternative liability situations, the actual causation requirement is missing. While courts and scholars insist that in these cases tort law holds liable parties who clearly did not cause the victim’s harm, this article offers a novel approach. Using a simple model and applying it to leading decisions, it shows that a party who did not and could not even potentially injure the victim could nevertheless be a but-for reason for the harm. The article also challenges claims that causation theories like concerted action, substantial factor and alternative liability are fair to the victim or that they are designed to deter actors from engaging in “antisocial” activities. In deviation from the prior literature, this article reveals that these causation theories reduce the parties’ incentives to take care and result in more, rather than fewer, accidents. This article further shows that, despite lip service to the contrary, tort law promotes harmful activities that judges declare immoral, antisocial and illegal. The article argues, however, that in many cases this result can be justified on efficiency grounds. The article concludes that the but-for test should have a larger role in causation analysis, and it provides a number of policy recommendations to courts and lawmakers. Keywords: actual causation, concerted action, concurrent causes, alternative liability, but-for, substantial factor, NESS, efficiency, welfare, fairness, deterrence
Reference :

51 Georgia Law Rev. 1 (2016) (Lead Article)

Tort-fest

This Article argues that mass torts involving multiple tortfeasors can be welfare enhancing. It begins by investigating the role of “dilution of liability” — a phenomenon that has been condemned for its role in facilitating accidents. According to the literature, in alternative care situations where the damage to the victim is constant, dilution of liability leads to inefficient precaution levels and consequently to more (bad) accidents. The Article deviates from this literature and shows that dilution of liability can be welfare enhancing. This is so even in the quintessential case where dilution of liability has been denounced. The Article further shows that an activity that is socially undesirable and should give rise to liability can become desirable as the number of tortfeasors increases. Put differently, it shows that in some situations an activity that would and should be condemned if conducted by one tortfeasor may become socially desirable if done by many. The Article analyzes the conditions under which such desirable “tortfests” occur, and it has important implications to the salience literature. After investigating the impact of tortfests on actors’ precaution and activity levels, the Article examines mechanisms that would incentivize actors, in certain situations, to join a group wrongdoing or combine with others to initiate one. The result, it is argued, could increase societal welfare. Keywords: tortfest, mass torts, dilution of liability, salience, alternative care, collusion, punitive damages, activity levels, precaution levels, economic analysis JEL Classification: A12, D20, D61, D72, K13
Reference :

80 U. Chi. L. Rev. 953 (2013)

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