Global Competition Law


A practitioner’s guide presenting an overview of the structure and content of the world’s principal competition laws with particular focus on the European Union.

The aim of Global Competition Law is not to present a scientific and exhaustive table of most of the world’s competition laws, in particular those of the European Union and its Member States, but rather to present their salient aspects by providing the practitioner with an overview of their structure and most characteristic elements.

For that reason, the plan employed is the same for all countries, with a few adjustments sometimes required because of the specific nature of the laws in question; the rules relating to unfair conduct do not feature, except where they are integrated into the country’s competition law, and those relating to anticompetitive practices (restrictive agreements and abuse of dominant position or monopolizations) are examined first, followed by those pertaining to the control of concentrations. Although Global Competition Law is primarily a practical guide, it also provides some general insights with regard to future developments.

Firstly, it is clear that the world of competition law is today divided into two groups, corresponding to two different conceptions of competition. The European model continues to see competition law as an instrument in the service of the State or its institutions, and this is reflected in the fact that the administrative authorities are generally competent in the first instance, that administrative repression is prevalent and that private actions remain rare. These rules of enforcement exist in parallel with the somewhat rigid substantive rules – but which are easy to apply – generally based on the principle of prohibition/exemption.

This construction can also be explained by efficiency considerations, with the detection and punishment for infringements entrusted to the same authorities, whereas the ordinary courts in Europe are ill-equipped and in general the judges have little training in competition issues. In contrast, the American model places competition within society itself: courts play the essential role, private parties appear to operate as veritable “private prosecutors” demanding the imposition of sanctions, notably by way of punitive damages. The rules are more flexible and allow more room for assessment on the merits; restrictive agreements are not prohibited – subject to exceptions – but assessed in the light of a rule of reason; not only abuses of dominance but all acts of monopolization are sanctioned i.e. all behaviors resulting in the creation of such position.

Looking at the facts, however, we see that the European systems have become appreciably more relaxed and the European guidelines are looking more and more like those in force in the US, especially in the field of merger control. On the other hand, the European laws do have a serious disadvantage in that they confuse the functions of investigation and judgment and there is a relatively weaker protection of the rights of defense than in the American model. In addition, with the increase in covert anticompetitive behavior, the effectiveness of administrative law enforcement has now been called into question and the application of competition law increasingly left to the parties themselves; it is no coincidence that the European Commission favors the introduction of class actions in competition law or that there has been such a rapid development of leniency programs within European countries.

It is likely that in the future, the European systems will become more judicial-based, using specialized courts before which private parties and administrative authorities can bring their actions. Correlatively, political control, particularly in the area of mergers, will see its influence decline, although the European-based laws will never seek to defend competition or favor efficiency for their own sakes and will continue to pursue extra-competitive objectives such as the protection of jobs, the environment, or simply, the public interest.

A change in the European model seems predictable in the short term. This reform must not be limited to importing a few American characteristics to the existing institutions. If, in the future, private parties can more easily claim compensation for harm suffered, there is no reason, other than to punish the perpetrators of anticompetitive practices twice, for the State to continue to impose very heavy administrative fines in order to repair the “damage to the economy”, as it is formulated under French law.

As Global Competition Law demonstrates, a legal system forms a whole: in order to improve it, it is not enough to merely incorporate the «good parts» from somewhere else; a whole new balance must be struck.

Vogel & Vogel’s publishing division: LawLex


• LawLex, in partnership with Editions Larcier and AFJE (French association of in-house counsel) provides a number of legal publications in both hardcopy and digital versions.

• Subjects covered are principally French, European and Global competition law, French and European distribution law and European and French
consumer law.

• Books are available in bookstores and on law-lex.com. E-books are available on-line.

• The updates and the decisions quoted are available free of charge in French and English at law-lex.com.

European Merger Control
1st ed. 2017

Extensively referencing case law and legislative and regulatory sources, European Merger Control interprets the various complex rules and illustrates how they may interact and develop.

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European State Aid Law
1st ed. 2017

European State Aid Law provides a wide-ranging review of the applicable European rules: prohibited aid, compatible aid and control procedure.

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European Distribution Law
1st ed. 2017

European distribution law in full analyzed by specialists.

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French Distribution Law
1st ed. 2017

French distribution law in full analyzed by specialists.

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Motor Vehicle Distribution Law
1st ed. 2017

Motor Vehicle Distribution Law provides a wide-ranging comparative review of the applicable European and French rules: lawfulness of networks, formation and performance of contracts, terminating contracts.

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European Business Law
2nd ed. 2017

European business law in full analyzed by a specialist.

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Law of the Internal Market
1st ed. 2017

Law of the Internal Market provides a wide-ranging review of the European rules: free movement of goods, persons, services capital, liberalization directives.

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Anti-Dumping Law
1st ed. 2017

Anti-dumping Law covers all the applicable European rules on anti-dumping and anti-subsidies.

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