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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First UK Cartel Offence Aquittals

Go To Jail

The news broke yesterday that the first fully contest trial in relation to the ‘old’ UK cartel offence results in both defendants being acquitted after the jury deliberated for “only a couple of hours”. As the ‘old’ cartel offence is no longer with us, being substantially amended in ERRA 2013, the wider impact of the acquittal might be perceived as being limited, but there are still lessons to be learned from what we know about the acquittal.

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Repealing the Human Rights Act and the implications for UK Competition Law Enforcement

European Court of Human Rights

(By Scott Summers)

Since the latter part of 2014, the Conservative party has promised that if it won at the 2015 General Election, it would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and enact a new British Bill of Rights (BBR). Now that the Conservatives have won the General Election by achieving a majority in the House of Commons, this plan could come to fruition. Whilst many have discussed the potential legal implications of repealing the HRA, there is one area of contention that has been completely overlooked; namely, the impact that repealing the HRA will have on competition law proceedings. This blog post seeks to address this issue by considering the implications that repealing the HRA may have on s.188 of the Enterprise Act 2002, (hereafter, the ‘UK criminal cartel offence’).

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Happy New Year!

I’m back after a refreshing break spending time with my friends and family …

But I have returned to pile of marking, that’s grading for those on the other side of the Atlantic, which *really* needs to be done. My blogging activity will resume as soon as my academic duties are no longer as time sensitive, for there is lots to talk about. There are a few cases from the end of last year that deserve a mention, and the Damages Directive also worth spending some time with.

Hopefully I’ll be able to put together a ‘bock-buster’ update by the end of the month, but until then I hope 2015 is another excellent year for everyone.

In Defense of the Intel Judgment


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 …


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?


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


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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