The CMA’s first strike against pay for delay settlements in the United Kingdom

February 12, 2016

(By Sven Gallasch) On 12 February 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued its first infringement decision concerning so-called pay for delay settlements in the UK pharmaceutical market, imposing a fine of £ 44.99 million on the branded pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) and a number of generic pharmaceutical companies including Generics (UK) limited and Alpharma Limited. This blog post considers whether drug companies’ claims that this practice is actually beneficial to customers have any merit. Read the rest of this entry »


Unfair purchasing practices and the Groceries Code of Conduct: the Tesco investigation

February 1, 2016

By Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui (University of Bergen). On 26 January 2016 the Groceries Code Adjudicator made public its investigation into Tesco plc concerning the possible breaches of the UK Groceries Code of Conduct. After an almost yearlong investigation the Adjudicator determined that Tesco had engaged in unfair purchasing practices prohibited by the Groceries Code of Conduct (“the Code”) by delaying payments that were due to its suppliers. Although the Adjudicator did not impose any financial fine on Tesco, it did issue five recommendations to be followed by the supermarket retail chain in order to prevent payment delays in the future. This blog discusses the Tesco case and its implications for future investigations. Read the rest of this entry »


New Zealand Rejects Cartel Criminalization for the Wrong Reasons

December 9, 2015

(by Andreas Stephan) Yesterday the New Zealand government announced it would drop plans to criminalize cartel conduct on the grounds that it would have a chilling effect on pro-competitive behaviour. While there may be good reasons to reject the criminalization of cartel conduct, this is probably the least convincing. Read the rest of this entry »


The VW Diesel Scandal: Turning a Blind Eye on Emissions to Protect the European Automobile Industry

October 16, 2015

(by Eugenio Miravete[1]) VW stands accused of exceeding the US EPA’s NOx standards by a factor of 10 or up to 40. What makes VW’s deception especially culpable is a sophisticated device designed to instruct the engine to run on clean mode when it detects that the vehicle is under lab testing conditions. Outraged commentators compare this to the behavior of the financial industry that led to the 2008 crisis. How did VW come to this? A significant part of the answer can be found in my own research, though this was not the issue I was investigating at the time. Read the rest of this entry »


I’m a dissatisfied customer in a fairly unusual market …the market for opinion polls

May 12, 2015

(by Chris Hanretty) I’m more an end-user rather than a customer: I don’t buy opinion polls, but rely on a number of polling companies to publish their results which are (typically) commissioned by national newspapers or other media outlets.

This market has recently suffered a clamorous and highly visible failure. Most polls before the 2015 UK general election suggested that approximately equal proportions of people intended to vote for the Conservative and Labour parties respectively. In the end, the Conservatives finished six and a half percentage points ahead.

Given the size of this failure — and CCP’s obvious interest in competition and troubled markets — it’s reasonable to ask whether the polling industry’s failure is evidence of a broader failure in the market for public opinion research. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


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