market power

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,

Verweigerung von Geschäftsbeziehungen: Kartellrechtliche Analyse nach Schweizer, EU- und US-Recht

Die Arbeit ist einer Analyse von Art. 7 Abs. 2 Bst. a KG zur Verweigerung von Geschäftsbeziehungen (refusal to deal) gewidmet. Sie klärt in einem ersten Teil die relevanten Begrifflichkeiten. In der Folge wendet sie sich der Frage zu, was die Missbräuchlichkeit einer Verweigerung von Geschäftsbeziehungen ausmacht. Die im Kontext von Geschäftsverweigerungen aktuellen Themenkreise der Systemmarkttheorie, der relativen Marktmacht, der Kosten-Preis-Schere (margin squeeze), der Lizenzverweigerung (refusal to license) und der Essential Facilities-Doktrin werden dabei dogmatisch eingeordnet und erörtert. Ein letzter Teil identifiziert geeignete kartellrechtliche Massnahmen. Die Untersuchung der Missbräuchlichkeit basiert auf einer umfassenden Auslegung von Art. 7 Abs. 2 Bst. a KG. Sie berücksichtigt insbesondere die einschlägigen entstehungsgeschichtlichen, verfassungsrechtlichen und ökonomischen Grundlagen. Die Perspektive ist dabei durchgehend rechtsvergleichend, wodurch Erkenntnisse aus dem Recht der Europäischen Union und der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika in die Abhandlung einfliessen. Als zentrale Einsicht folgt aus der vorliegenden Untersuchung, dass eine Verweigerung von Geschäftsbeziehungen nur dann als unzulässig gelten sollte, wenn die nachgefragte Ressource unerlässlich ist für das Erbringen einer Innovationsleistung durch einen effizienten Nachfrager. Formalisiert wird diese Erkenntnis im Konzept der Innovationsindispensabilität.
Reference :

Stämpfli Verlag AG, Bern 2017 (ISBN 978-3-7272-0520-0; 911 Seiten)

Aggregate Concentration Concerns: Competition Law Solutions?

Competition law is generally focused on competition in a market. Yet, as recent economic studies have clearly indicated, one of the main sources of competition concerns of jurisdictions around the world is the impact of high levels of aggregate concentration in their markets, when a small group of economic entities controls a large part of the economic activity through holdings in many markets. High levels of aggregate concentration can significantly impact competition and welfare. On the one hand, conglomerates' substantial resources and varied experiences, as well as their economies of scale and scope, often enable them to enter markets more readily than other firms, especially when entry barriers are high. On the other hand, high levels of aggregate concentration raise significant competitive concerns. Most importantly, oligopolistic coordination in and across markets as well as entry barriers into markets might be increased. These effects, in turn, might lead to stagnation and poor utilization of resources, which adversely affect growth and welfare. Another major concern is a political economy one: given their size and economic heft, large conglomerates may attempt to translate their economic power into political power in order to create, protect and entrench their privileged positions. Given these effects, the paper attempts to explore the weight given- if at all- to aggregate concentration in the application of competition laws around the world. The analysis is based, inter alia, on the experiences of 35 different jurisdictions in dealing with aggregate concentration through competition law, based on a survey performed with the assistance of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
Reference :

35. Michal S. Gal and Thomas Cheng, "Aggregate Concentration Concerns: Competition Law Solutions?" Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (2016)