The European Damages Directive fails to deliver, but can it be fixed?

March 3, 2015

(by Sebastian Peyer) The European Commission’s Damages Directive[1] was recently signed into law and the Member States have been given two years to implement the rules of the Damages Directive into national law. In this blog post I argue that the Directive fails to achieve its stated goal of compensation because it does not reduce litigation costs or incentivise the bringing of costly legal actions. Instead, the Damages Directive seeks to safeguard public enforcement from private follow-on actions. It is therefore unlikely to facilitate greater levels of private enforcement. For the Damages Directive to become effective, it should be supplemented with further legislation to incentivise stand-alone actions.[2] Read the rest of this entry »


Competition Law Compliance, Leniency and Corporate Governance: Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

November 26, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan). In the recent much talked about Automotive News article, ‘Confessions of a Price Fixer’, an anonymous Japanese car parts executive claims to have been incentivised by his firm to plead guilty to a US antitrust charge. The implication is that the firm did this to negotiate a lower fine with the US Department of Justice and possibly distract from the involvement of more senior employees. The individual, like many other Japanese executives involved in price fixing, has now served his time and is back at work with the same company. The story raises interesting questions about corporate governance; in particular firms’ failure to adequately discipline employees involved in cartel activity. However, even where there is a willingness to take action, the individuals involved in the infringement may hold all the cards. Read the rest of this entry »


Is the Head of Germany’s Bundeskartellamt Right to Suggest Criminal Law Sanctions are Too Severe for Cartels?

November 24, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) It has been reported by Bloomberg Businessweek that the President of the German Federal Cartel Office recently expressed doubts as to whether criminal sanctions were necessary in the fight against cartels. His comments are indicative of the diverging approaches taken by cartel enforcement regimes. They are made all the more interesting by the fact Germany is one of the most active European enforcers of criminal law against bid-rigging arrangements and a suggestion by another Bundeskartellamt official that individual sanctions should be abandoned altogether. Read the rest of this entry »


The EU Commission Decision against Servier – a New Dimension to European Pharmaceutical Antitrust?

July 11, 2014

(by Sven Gallasch) On 9 July 2014 the European Commission announced its decision to impose a fine of €427.7 million on French drug maker Servier and five generic companies in relation to so-called ‘pay for delay’ settlements concerning Servier’s bestselling blood pressure drug perindopril. The case differs from the Commission’s earlier decisions against Lundbeck and Johnson & Johnson in a number of rather notable aspects, which will be addressed in this blog post. Read the rest of this entry »


Competition Policy and Scottish Independence

July 1, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) On 18 September 2014 Scottish residents will be asked whether Scotland should be an independent country. A discussion was held at the recent Antitrust Enforcement Symposium (held by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Competition Law and Policy) regarding competition policy in an independent Scotland. This blog piece focuses on the impact independence would have on competition enforcement in Britain. Read the rest of this entry »


The First Real Test of Sentencing for the UK Cartel Offence

June 24, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) A former managing director charged with the UK’s cartel offence has pleaded guilty to the criminal offence of price fixing. Peter Nigel Snee pleaded guilty to fixing the price of galvanised steel tanks used for water storage and now awaits sentencing. His case provides an important first test for the sentencing of cartelists under the UK’s criminal offence. Although Snee is the fourth individual to be convicted of the offence, the first three (in the Marine Hoses case) actually requested custodial sentences because of the peculiar conditions of a plea bargain entered into with the US Department of Justice. The issue of whether Snee receives a custodial sentence is important to justifying the use of criminal sanctions in UK cartel enforcement. Read the rest of this entry »


Can the OFT Succeed in its Latest Attempt at Bringing Criminal Charges Against an Individual for Cartel Conduct?

February 18, 2014

(by Scott Summers) The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has charged Peter Nigel Snee under section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002. It is alleged that he ‘dishonestly agreed with others’ to fix prices, allocate markets and rig bids in the market for galvanised steel tanks for water storage, between 2004 and 2012. This is the UK’s first criminal cartel prosecution since the collapse of the British Airways trial back in 2010,[1] which left a number of unanswered questions about the ‘dishonesty’ element and the UK cartel offence in general. The Snee case will fall under the existing cartel offence. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will, from 1 April 2014, strip the ‘dishonesty’ element and introduce new carve-outs and defences to the offence. Read the rest of this entry »


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