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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CLaSF Workshop on ‘Competition Law and Enforcement Priorities’

Competition Law Scholars Forum

The next CLaSF workshop on ‘Competition Law and Enforcement Priorities’ will be held in association with UCD Sutherland School of Law, Dublin on Friday 16 September 2016.

The full programme for the Workshop can be seen on the CLaSF website. One of the highlights will be a keynote speech from Professor William E. Kovacic, George Washington University Law School.

#NotMyBrexit and Competition Law


The last few days have been whirlwind of bad news and questionable choices. Both major UK political parties are in disarray, and the only forceful political voice with a clear way forward comes from the SNP.

It will be of no surprise to anyone that I supported Remain. My support was with a heavy heart; not because I have less than full support for EU Membership, but because the campaign itself was woeful. There was a failure to make a positive case for EU Membership – no doubt because the Tory leaders of the Remain campaign had taken every opportunity to blame the EU for all the UK’s ills in the decade before the referendum.

We can see now that what Leave dubbed as ‘Project Fear’ is becoming ‘Unfortunate Reality’. The consequences of a political decision to leave the EU will be dwarfed by the consequences should we ever actually do so.

The only chink of light going forwards is that the UK has not yet decided to Leave the EU, never mind the more consequential step of notifying the European Council of its formal intention to do so, thereby triggering the withdrawal process under Art 50 TFEU. As there appears to be no ‘Plan A’ for the UK’s post Brexit engagement with the EU 27 I cannot see how there can be any desire for the UK Govt, who exercise such Prerogative powers, to rush towards triggering Art 50, even if they can come to a decision whose hand should be on the tiller.

I that time I hope there is the opportunity for Parliament to exercise its sovereignty and exercise control on the Govt to avoid any rash steps, driven by the internal division within the Conservative Party, that would put the UK’s trading relationship with the rest of the EU in jeopardy. It is perhaps difficult after the tumult of the last few days to hope that wise heads might prevail, but I still hold that hope.

As to competition law I am more optimistic. In substantive terms I don’t think that there would be desire, even from the most ardent Europhobe, to address the EU’s influence on competition law as one of the 1st pieces of UK reform; there are far more obvious areas where de-regulation might be more appealing. Given the CMAs position in relation to competition policy I also see limited internal push for the UK reforms; although there is perhaps reason to think that the formalistic line taken by the CJEU in relation to Art 102 TFEU, might not be followed so slavishly by the CMA and the UK Court’s if they were freed up from s 60 of the 1998 Act. There are larger questions surrounding the UK’s continued participation in the EU Merger Regulation and within the ECN should the UK leave the EU. While the substantive rules in mergers or antitrust may be very similar in in the UK and EU the loss of effective cooperation between the CMA, DG Comp, and the 27 NCAs will reduce the effectiveness of competition law enforcement across the UK and the EU 27. The loss of the UKs voice in competition policy debates within DG Comp and the ECN could lead towards  a more interventionist stance in EU policy; which would , rather ironically, potentially impact on the the activity of significant UK firms in vital EU markets.

I hope the UK will continue to have a good trading and competition law enforcement relationship with the rest of the EU for a long time coming. I’m not ready to file away my copy of the Treaty quite yet.

For a video that explains the impact of Brexit on Competition Law from Oke Odudu, see:


Once More unto the ‘Object Box’


Case C-345/14 Maxima Latvija (ECLI:EU:C:2015:784)

The Court of Justice of the EU has once again handed down a judgment which discusses ‘object’ agreements under Art 101(1) TFEU in Case C-345/14 Maxima Latvija. It adds a little clarity to some of the potential confusion that comes from different forms of wording in previous judgments such as Allianz Hungária and Cartes Bancaires. Read More…

Steady as Art 102 Goes …

Post Danmark

The Court handed down its judgment in Case C-23/14 Post Danmark today. The judgment itself is not particularly surprising, in that it largely follows previous judgments of the Court in earlier Art 102 cases. The main feature of note is what the Court didn’t do: it again declined an opportunity to either follow or discredit the so-called ‘more economic approach’ to the abuse of a dominant position. Read More…

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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