Welcome to ‘Who’s Competing’ …

‘Who’s Competing?’ is a Competition Law & EU Law Blog maintained by Angus MacCulloch of Lancaster University Law School created to support and inform my competition law research and teaching. Should a legal development strike me as interesting or important I’ll use this blog to explain what’s going on.

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In Defense of the Intel Judgment

Intel

The judgment by the General Court, on 12 June 2104, in the Case T-286/09 Intel (ECLI:EU:T:2014:547) has been one of the most controversial in recent years. It it part of the ongoing debate in EU competition law between those who seek to introduce a ‘more economic’ approach to Art 102 TFEU and break away from the formalism they perceive in the Court’s jurisprudence, and those who see the Court’s existing case law as well grounded and effective, and see the more to a ‘more economic’ approach as being a move towards unnecessary uncertainty.

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Premiership Rugby Union: if it looks like a duck and quacks like one …

Rugby

By Bev Williamson

Premiership Rugby Limited (the PRL) is the company that commercialises premiership rugby union in England.  Its CEO, Mark McCafferty, has publicly rejected claims that Premiership operates as a cartel.  He relies on the fact that English rugby union utilises a system of promotion and relegation for determining which teams compete amongst the professional elite.  That being the case, the PRL, which is made up of representatives of each of the Premiership teams, together with the sport’s governing body, the Rugby Football Union (the RFU), may have found ways to create a cartel by stealth.

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Does this look like Universities colluding?

Graduation

There is currently an ongoing dispute between academic staff and employers in the UK pre-92 Universities regarding the running of the USS pension scheme. I don’t want to get into the debate surrounding the reasons for the dispute, but an interesting competition law question has arisen regarding several UK Universities’ near identical responses to the fact the trade union that represents academic staff, the UCU, have announced a collective marking boycott as part of industrial action protesting at proposed changes to the pension scheme.

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The Price is Not Right: Italian Troubles with Road Haulage and Tobacco Pricing

Cigarette.

Two recent judgments handed down by the CJEU show how difficult it can be for a Member State to involve itself in fixing minimum prices for products. Given the ongoing challenge to minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland it is interesting that in both these cases the Court ruled against the fixing of prices, but for very different reasons. Neither case is directly analogous to the Scots alcohol MUP referred to the Court in Case C-333/14, but there are perhaps lessons that can be learnt.

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A Glimpse Inside the ‘Object Box’

Open Box

Case C-67/13 P Groupement des Cartes Bancaires (CB) ECLI:EU:C:2014:2204

It’s not often that the Court of Justice gets to address one of the core concepts that underlie the antitrust prohibitions, but in Groupement des Cartes Bancaires the CJEU has taken its second opportunity to discuss the nature of Art 101 TFEU ‘object’ agreements in as many years. At the end of 2012, in Expedia, the Court discussed whether an ‘object’ agreement needed to have an ‘appreciable’ effect on competition. In Groupement des CB the CJEU gets to the heart of what it is that makes an agreement fall within the ‘object box’.

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New Edition of Competition Law and Policy in the EU and UK

5th Edition Cover

The 5th Edition of the competition law textbook I co-author with Barry Rodger, of the University of Strathclyde, is due to hit bookshelves at the end of this month. There are many innovations in the this edition of the text, but one of the most significant is the plan to use this blog as a companion to the text.

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What Makes a Cartel Newsworthy?

German Sausages

The mainstream UK news media has today been gleefully reporting the large fines imposed by the Bundeskartellamt in the German Sausage cartel. What struck me as interesting is why that cartel, above so many others has broken out of the financial press and made the headlines?

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Would a Cartel Offence Prosecution be a VHCC for Legal Aid?

Legal Aid

Prof Cosmo Graham, from the University of Leicester, just posed me that very interesting question.

The #OpCotton ruling yesterday stayed a large City fraud prosecution because the defendants could not find Counsel willing to represent them at the reduced VHCC (Very High Cost Cases) rates now offered in Legal Aid cases. Many, see for instance David Allen Green in the FT and Alan Wagner in the New Statesman, have pointed out this may mean that VHCC cases are effectively unprosecutable in the UK. I don’t know if a Cartel Offence prosecution would normally fall into this VHCC class.

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Local Bans on Cheap Booze

Local Bans on Cheap Booze

I’m giving a presentation at the CLaSF Workshop on Thursday 1 May on the competition aspects of the Scottish Minimum Alcohol Pricing case, and this story caught my eye. It seems that are several ways in which steps to regulate alcohol consumption, and also public disorder, through the pricing mechanism cut across competition law. I think I’ll have to spend some more time on this and try and set out my ideas more fully.

COMP LAW: The EU competition lawyers’ toolkit

COMP LAW

There is a new Competition Law app for the iPhone and iPad – COMP LAW: The EU competition lawyer’s toolkit. As I was lucky enough to be sent a freebie copy I thought I’d pen a quick review.

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