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)

Leniency and Criminal Sanctions: Happily Married or Uneasy Bedfellows?

This this chapter of the book Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion, the authors consider a range of theories that may explain the dynamics in the cartel leniency — cartel criminalisation relationship and, in particular, that address the question as to whether the relationship suggests a largely instrumental justification for criminalisation (that is, using criminal sanctions to bolster leniency policies), as distinct from a more normative justification (that is, using criminal sanctions to reflect and punish the harmful and delinquent nature of cartels). Whichever theory is favoured, the authors argue that the relationship is problematic, replete with ambiguities, tensions and contradictions that threaten the legitimacy and effectiveness of both competition and criminal law enforcement. In making this case, Harding, Edwards and Beaton-Wells canvas the fragility of the economic policy justifications for singling out certain types of cartel conduct for criminal treatment; the retributive compromise and foreclosure inherent in a leniency-driven strategy of enforcement; the ways in which leniency policy underscores and may even reinforce the otherwise immoral (cheating) behaviour said to attract the moral opprobrium associated with criminal sanctions; the ways in which leniency policy shapes and distorts the relationship between cartelists as prospective leniency applicants and competition authorities; and the potential for leniency policy to be ‘gamed’ by cartelists and the associated risk of business capture of the legal process.
Reference :

Christopher Harding, Caron Beaton-Wells and Jennifer Edwards, 'Leniency and Criminal Sanctions: Happily Married or Uneasy Bedfellows?' in in C Beaton-Wells and C Tran (eds), Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion, Hart Publishing, 2015, ch 12, pp234-260

Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion

Leniency policies are seen as a revolution in contemporary anti-cartel law enforcement. Unique to competition law, these policies are regarded as essential to detecting, punishing and deterring business collusion – conduct that subverts competition at national and global levels. Featuring contributions from leading scholars, practitioners and enforcers from around the world, this book probes the almost universal adoption and zealous defence of leniency policies by many competition authorities and others. It charts the origins of and impetuses for the leniency movement, captures key insights from academic research and practical experience relating to the operation and effectiveness of leniency policies and examines leniency from the perspectives of corporate and individual applicants, advisers and authorities. The book also explores debates surrounding the intersections between leniency and other crucial elements of the enforcement system such as compensation, compliance and criminalisation. The rich critical analysis in the book draws on the disciplines of law, regulation, economics and criminology. It makes a substantial and distinctive contribution to the literature on a topic that is highly significant to a wide range of actors in the field of competition law and business regulation generally.
Reference :

Caron Beaton-Wells and Christopher Tran (eds), Anti-Cartel Enforcement in a Contemporary Age: Leniency Religion (Bloomsbury, 2015)

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)


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)

Famous Trademarks and The Rational Basis For Protecting Irrational Beliefs

Contrary to the traditional view, this article argues that mega-brands are neither economic evils nor limited to imparting information about the products they adorn. It also rejects the view that famous marks persuade “snobs” to “irrationally” pay more for the same physical product they could have purchased for less. Rather, it adopts the view that in purchasing a branded good, the consumer is actually purchasing a bundle of three products: a physical product, information about the physical product, and an intangible product, such as fame, prestige, peace of mind, or a pleasant feeling. This article explores the demand for the intangible product and its impact on pricing, welfare, and the strategies of consumers and producers. It concludes that under certain conditions one may witness the anomaly of an increase in both price and output. Further, contrary to conspicuous goods theory, this analysis shows that snobbism may occur in the traditional downward-sloping demand curves and is not limited to goods with conspicuous properties. A direct implication of this analysis is that mega-brands neither confer a monopoly nor foster price discrimination. On the contrary, they enhance competition in both the physical and intangible spheres. Further, the analysis provides a rational basis for anti-dilution law. Anti-dilution law - widely considered to protect producers and injure consumers - actually inures to the benefit of both groups. Finally, this analysis shows that even snobs are rational, and that there are sound economic justifications for the law’s unique protection of famous marks. Keywords: famous trademarks, mega brands, persuasive advertising, branding, intangible product, snobs, conspicuous goods, irrational consumers, social norms, anti-dilution, externality, intellectual property, price discrimination, tying, antitrust, psychological value
Reference :

14 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 605 (2007) (Lead Article)

Access Barriers to Competition

While data were always valuable in a range of economic activities, the advent of new and improved technologies for the collection, storage, mining, synthesizing, and analysis of data has led to the ability to utilize vast volumes of data in real-time in order to learn new information. Part I explores the four primary characteristics of big data: volume, velocity, variety, and veracity and their effects of the value of data. Part II analyzes the different types of access barriers that limit entry into the different links of the data value chain. In Part III, we tie together the characteristics of big data markets including potential entry barriers, to analyze their competitive effects. The analysis centers on those instances in which the unique characteristics of big data markets lead to variants in the more traditional competitive analysis. Our analysis suggests that the unique characteristics of big data have an important role to play in analyzing competition and in evaluating social welfare.
Reference :

Rubinfeld, Daniel L. and Gal, Michal S., Access Barriers to Big Data, forthcoming Arizona L. Rev (2017), available at SSRN:

Algorithmic Consumers

The next generation of e-commerce will be conducted by digital agents, based on algorithms that will not only make purchase recommendations, but will also predict what we want, make purchase decisions, negotiate and execute the transaction for the consumers, and even automatically form coalitions of buyers to enjoy better terms, thereby replacing human decision-making. Algorithmic consumers have the potential to change dramatically the way we conduct business, raising new conceptual and regulatory challenges. This game-changing technological development has significant implications for regulation, which should be adjusted to a reality of consumers making their purchase decisions via algorithms. Despite this challenge, scholarship addressing commercial algorithms focused primarily on the use of algorithms by suppliers. This article seeks to fill this void. We first explore the technological advances which are shaping algorithmic consumers, and analyze how these advances affect the competitive dynamic in the market. Then we analyze the implications of such technological advances on regulation, identifying three main challenges.
Reference :

Gal, Michal S. and Elkin-Koren, Niva, Algorithmic Consumers (August 8, 2016). Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 30, 2017. Available at SSRN:

The 'Consumer Choice' Paradigm in German Ordoliberalism and its Impact Upon EU Competition Law

This paper explores the origin and the development of the "consumer choice" paradigm as the core concept of German ordoliberal thought which has had a strong impact on EU competition policy and law. Even though it is actually under attack from the welfare economic approach that emphasizes "consumer welfare" instead of "consumer choice", the latter paradigm is still deeply rooted in the jurisprudence of the CJEU.
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