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Competition Law — Overview

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For more detailed information about our work in this area, see also the dedicated Centre for Competition Law and Policy website

Forthcoming Subject Events


February 2015

Centre for Competition Law & Policy
Article 9 Commitment Decisions
Speaker: Florian Wagner-von Papp, UCL
Centre for Competition Law & Policy at 13:00
Centre for Competition Law & Policy
Article 102 - Recent developments
Speaker: John Temple Lang , Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Centre for Competition Law & Policy at 13:00
Centre for Competition Law & Policy
Private Enforcement and Competition Law Litigation
Speaker: Richard Pike , Constantine Cannon
Centre for Competition Law & Policy at 13:00

March 2015

Centre for Competition Law & Policy
European Cartel Criminalisation
Speaker: Peter Whelan, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, School of Law, University of Leeds
Centre for Competition Law & Policy at 13:00

June 2015

Centre for Competition Law & Policy in conjunction with The Oxford/Stockholm Soderberg Venture and the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement
Round Table discussion on Information Exchange and Market Transparency
Pembroke College at 13:00

News

The Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, Volume 2 Issue 2, October 2014

The new issue of the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (JAE) has now been published in hard copy and is also available online on the OUP website (free access) […]

Journal of Antitrust Enforcement Agency Effectiveness Study

The Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy, in collaboration with the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, launched an empirical study on the effectiveness of competition agencies […]

Discussion Groups

These self-sustaining groups are an essential part of the life of our graduate school. They are organised in some cases by graduate students and in others by Faculty members and meet regularly during term, typically over a sandwich lunch, when one of the group presents work in progress or introduces a discussion of a particular issue or new case. They may also encompass guest speakers from the faculty and beyond.

Competition Law Discussion Group

Publications

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2012

A Ezrachi, 'Buying Alliances and Input Price Fixing – In Search of a European Enforcement Standard ' (2012) Journal of Competition Law & Economics [...]

This paper considers the welfare implications of input price fixing and the enforcement standard to be applied to these arrangements. It explores the way in which European competition law approaches input price fixing, the scope of the object-based approach and the instances in which effects-based analysis may be used in the appraisal. In doing so, the paper sets to clarify the legal approach to price fixing of procured input. It outlines a possible benchmark for the assessment of input price fixing, with the aim of sharpening the dividing line between instances which restrict competition by object, and those which necessitate consideration of effects.


ISBN: 1744-6414

2010

A Ezrachi and Gilo, 'Excessive Pricing, Entry, Assessment and Investment – Lessons from the Mittal Litigation' (2010) 76:3 Antitrust Law Journal [...]

The role of antitrust in curtailing excessive prices has long been a contentious area. Consequently, the charging of excessive prices has been subjected to diverse levels of enforcement across the world.1 U.S. antitrust law, for example, does not encompass the charging of high prices as such,2 and was held not to “condemn the resultant of those very forces which it is its prime object to foster: finis opus coronat.”3 By contrast, competition laws in other jurisdictions provide for the condemnation of excessive or unfair pricing. Such is the case under EU competition law,4 the competition provisions in the European Member States,5 and in other jurisdictions across the world.6 But even among those competition regimes which do intervene against the charging of excessive prices as such, one may identify different levels of enthusiasm for doing so. In Europe, for example, recent years have witnessed a restrained approach by the European Commission7 but a more proactive approach by some of the competition authorities of the Member States.8 Varying levels of intervention reflect a controversy as to the merit of prohibiting excessive pricing. Three main grounds are often used to justify non-, or limited-, intervention: (1) intervention is not necessary, as high prices would be competed away by new entry, attracted by the ex-cessive price; (2) there are practical difficulties in speculating what a price would have been had there been competition and in determining the excessiveness of the prices actually charged; and (3) enforcement which targets excessive prices may chill innovation and investment.9 To illustrate the difficulties of assessment and to question some of the justifications that are used to rationalize non-intervention, this article reviews the recent litigation in South Africa related to alleged excessive pricing by Mittal Steel.10 We use the decisions of the South African Competition Tribunal and the South African Competition Appeal Court as a case study to highlight both the complexity of, and possible merit in, antitrust intervention against excessive pricing. Our analysis focuses on the three grounds for non-intervention. First, with respect to the self-correcting nature of excessive prices, we illustrate how excessive prices, in and of themselves, do not attract new entry, when potential entrants are either informed or uninformed about their post-entry profits. Referring to our previous work on this subject,11 we question the South African Competition Tribunal’s holding in the Mittal case with respect to the prerequisite conditions for intervention against excessive pricing. Second, we consider how the difficulties of assessing what is an excessive price affected the outcome in the Mittal litigation. Without underestimating these difficulties, we consider how they may be alleviated in certain cases through reasonable methods for inferring what may constitute an excessive price. Third, while acknowledging the possible validity of concerns about chilling ex ante investment, we outline instances in which these concerns should not serve to support nonintervention. It should be stressed that this article does not advocate across-theboard intervention. It does, however, question the validity of a categorical “hands-off” approach, which deems excessive prices to be outside the realm of competition law. We consider separately the weight that should be assigned to each ground for non-intervention. Subsequently, we argue in favor of a case-by-case approach which explores the factual matrix of each case and considers the benefits, costs, and net effects of intervention.


ISBN: 0003-6056

A Ezrachi, 'Unchallenged Market Power? The Tale of Supermarkets, Private labels and Competition Law ' (2010) World Competition [...]

Recent decades have witnessed a distinct increase in the sales and popularity of private labels. The growing market share of private labels has transformed the landscape of retail competition in developed countries. Major retailers are no longer confined to their traditional roles of purchasers and distributors of branded goods. By selling their own label products within their outlet they compete with their upstream brand suppliers on sales and shelf space. This ‘vertical competition’ is not confined solely to ‘value’ categories of products. These days, retailers offer private label goods catering for the value, specialized and premium markets. These developments, and the increasing confidence that consumers have in private labels, have increased the bargaining position and market power of retailers as their labels compete directly with the leading manufacturers’ brand and its ‘value’ alternatives. This unique relationship and the increased role played by private labels raises fundamental questions as to their pro-, and possible anti-, competitive effects. It further highlights the shifting power balance between the producer and distributor and between the private label and branded good. This paper focuses on the effects of private labels, sold in major supermarkets, on retail competition and consumer welfare. In particular, it considers how supermarkets affect competition due to the fact that they retain control over shelving, in-store promotion and the pricing of branded and own label goods in addition to having superior access to consumer data. Furthermore, it reviews the enforcement of competition law in a private label environment and the difficulty in balancing the beneficial short-term effects of private labels and their possible, harmful, long-term effects. It subsequently questions whether these difficulties imply a lack of competitive harm or reflect a gap in regulation, as traditional analysis fails to encompass the increased market power of retailers and the existence of vertical competition.


ISBN: 1011-4548

2009

A Ezrachi and David Gilo, 'Are Excessive Prices Really Self-Correcting?' (2009) Journal of Competition Law & Economics

Courses

The courses we offer in this field are:

Undergraduate

FHS - Final Year (Phase III)

The degree is awarded on the basis of nine final examinations at the end of the three-year course (or four years in the case of Law with Law Studies in Europe) and (for students who began the course in October 2011 or later) an essay in Jurisprudence written over the summer vacation at the end of the second year. Note: the Jurisprudence exam at the end of the third year is correspondingly shorter. This phase of the Final Honour School includes the first and second term of the final year; the Final Examinations are taken in the third term of the final year.

Competition Law and Policy

The aim of the course is to enable students to critically reflect upon the basic principles and policies at the heart of competition law. In particular, to understand how the law governs business practices that may restrict competition in economic markets through private and public enforcement and to analyse how competition law can curb anticompetitive activities and facilitate free competition.

At the end of the course, students should be able to: (i) understand how the law controls: a. cartel agreements and concerted practices b. the abuse of monopoly power c. mergers and acquisitions d. enforcement of competition law through private enforcement and via the investigations of the Commission (ii) critically reflect upon the economic principles underpinning the definition and control of anti-competitive practices (iii) apply the law to solve practical problems concerning the control of anti-competitive practices (iv) critically analyse how far the law facilities the promotion of free competition. (v) develop their own critical perspective concerning how law should and could control anti-competitive practices and the role of the European Community in developing this law.

The teaching in this course is done by way of lectures, seminars and tutorial sessions. The lecture series is devoted to examination of the relevant statutory and case law framework and to the discussion of basic economic concepts (no prior knowledge of economics is required). Lectures are held on weeks 1-8 in MT. Each lecture lasts two hours. Two seminar sessions, each lasting two hours, will also be held in MT.

The tutorial series provides practical experience in the application of competition law through problem solving. Tutorials will be arranged centrally by the competition law group. There will be two tutorials in MT and two in HT.

For more information on the course see the Centre for Competition Law and Policy website at: www.competition-law.ox.ac.uk

Diploma in Legal Studies

Competition Law and Policy

The aim of the course is to enable students to critically reflect upon the basic principles and policies at the heart of competition law. In particular, to understand how the law governs business practices that may restrict competition in economic markets through private and public enforcement and to analyse how competition law can curb anticompetitive activities and facilitate free competition.

At the end of the course, students should be able to: (i) understand how the law controls: a. cartel agreements and concerted practices b. the abuse of monopoly power c. mergers and acquisitions d. enforcement of competition law through private enforcement and via the investigations of the Commission (ii) critically reflect upon the economic principles underpinning the definition and control of anti-competitive practices (iii) apply the law to solve practical problems concerning the control of anti-competitive practices (iv) critically analyse how far the law facilities the promotion of free competition. (v) develop their own critical perspective concerning how law should and could control anti-competitive practices and the role of the European Community in developing this law.

The teaching in this course is done by way of lectures, seminars and tutorial sessions. The lecture series is devoted to examination of the relevant statutory and case law framework and to the discussion of basic economic concepts (no prior knowledge of economics is required). Lectures are held on weeks 1-8 in MT. Each lecture lasts two hours. Two seminar sessions, each lasting two hours, will also be held in MT.

The tutorial series provides practical experience in the application of competition law through problem solving. Tutorials will be arranged centrally by the competition law group. There will be two tutorials in MT and two in HT.

For more information on the course see the Centre for Competition Law and Policy website at: www.competition-law.ox.ac.uk

Postgraduate

BCL

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from common-law backgrounds

Competition Law

The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of this area of law, together with the ability to subject it to critical legal and economic analysis. The course aims to cover the main substantive laws relating to competition within the EC, including the control of monopoly and oligopoly; merger control; anti-competitive agreements; and other anti-competitive practices.

The emphasis is placed predominantly on EU competition law to reflect the importance it assumes in practice. UK competition law is also taught in detail, both because of its value in providing a comparative study of two systems of competition law and because of its importance to the UK practitioner. The antitrust laws of the USA and competition laws of other jurisdictions are also referred to by way of comparison.

Lectures and Seminars: Competition law is taught in lectures seminars by Dr Ariel Ezrachi, Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law, and Mr Aidan Robertson, QC, visiting lecturer and barrister, Brick Court Chambers.

Tutorials: In addition to the lectures and seminars, a course of four tutorials will be given in the Hilary and Trinity terms. Tutorial arrangements will be made in due course. All students taking tutorials will be asked to submit written work before they attend tutorials.
Visiting speakers: There is a programme of visiting speakers details of which are found on the CCLP website.

MJur

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from civil law backgrounds.

Competition Law

The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of this area of law, together with the ability to subject it to critical legal and economic analysis. The course aims to cover the main substantive laws relating to competition within the EC, including the control of monopoly and oligopoly; merger control; anti-competitive agreements; and other anti-competitive practices.

The emphasis is placed predominantly on EU competition law to reflect the importance it assumes in practice. UK competition law is also taught in detail, both because of its value in providing a comparative study of two systems of competition law and because of its importance to the UK practitioner. The antitrust laws of the USA and competition laws of other jurisdictions are also referred to by way of comparison.

Lectures and Seminars: Competition law is taught in lectures seminars by Dr Ariel Ezrachi, Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law, and Mr Aidan Robertson, QC, visiting lecturer and barrister, Brick Court Chambers.

Tutorials: In addition to the lectures and seminars, a course of four tutorials will be given in the Hilary and Trinity terms. Tutorial arrangements will be made in due course. All students taking tutorials will be asked to submit written work before they attend tutorials.
Visiting speakers: There is a programme of visiting speakers details of which are found on the CCLP website.

MSc (Master's in Law and Finance)

Competition Law

The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of this area of law, together with the ability to subject it to critical legal and economic analysis. The course aims to cover the main substantive laws relating to competition within the EC, including the control of monopoly and oligopoly; merger control; anti-competitive agreements; and other anti-competitive practices.

The emphasis is placed predominantly on EU competition law to reflect the importance it assumes in practice. UK competition law is also taught in detail, both because of its value in providing a comparative study of two systems of competition law and because of its importance to the UK practitioner. The antitrust laws of the USA and competition laws of other jurisdictions are also referred to by way of comparison.

Lectures and Seminars: Competition law is taught in lectures seminars by Dr Ariel Ezrachi, Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law, and Mr Aidan Robertson, QC, visiting lecturer and barrister, Brick Court Chambers.

Tutorials: In addition to the lectures and seminars, a course of four tutorials will be given in the Hilary and Trinity terms. Tutorial arrangements will be made in due course. All students taking tutorials will be asked to submit written work before they attend tutorials.
Visiting speakers: There is a programme of visiting speakers details of which are found on the CCLP website.


People

Competition Law teaching is organized by a Subject Group convened by:

Ariel Ezrachi: Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law

in conjunction with:

Stefan Enchelmaier: Professor of European and Comparative Law
Angus Johnston: Professor of Law
Aidan Robertson, QC: Visiting Lecturer

assisted by:

Maria Ioannidou: DPhil Law student

Also working in this field, but not involved in its teaching programme:

Graham Child: Retired. Formerly Slaughter and May Visiting Fellow, Lincoln College
Stephen Weatherill: Jacques Delors Professor of European Law

Graduate students working in this field:

Sebastian Castro Quiroz: DPhil Law student
Marco Corradi: DPhil Law student
Stephen Daly: DPhil Law student
Dimitrios Kyriazis: DPhil Law student
Daisy Ogembo: DPhil Law student
Dimitrios Sarmas: MPhil Law student
Konstantinos Sidiropoulos: MPhil Law student
Rahul Singh: DPhil Law student


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