In the reports from around the world collected in this volume, we continue to see a good deal of international overlap among the issues and industries attracting government enforcement attention.
Cartel enforcement remains robust, particularly by the European Union and the United States, although the number of new enforcement decisions adopted by the EU dropped significantly in 2015. Other jurisdictions, including Greece and France, also report a decrease in the magnitude of fines or numbers of decisions rendered in cartel actions. China, however, saw a slight increase. In 2015, Australia, Brazil, China, Cyprus, the European Union, Germany and the United States have opened, continued or settled enforcement actions against automotive parts cartelists. Brazil, China, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland have each seen enforcement activity related to the distribution of automobiles. Additionally, several jurisdictions investigated food-related cartels in 2015, including dairy products (France and Spain), chocolate (Canada), eggs (Australia), poultry (France), bakeries (Finland), and sugarcane (Colombia).
In the area of restrictive agreements, several European jurisdictions (France, Germany, Italy and Sweden) moved against an online travel booking platform for its use of ‘most-favoured nation’ clauses with respect to the rates offered by hotels to the platform. However, as we see in the chapters that follow, the German authority did not accept the commitments made by the platform to the other jurisdictions, and required a more stringent remedy. These actions follow on a similar enforcement action in the United Kingdom in 2014. In addition, Brazil, France, and Sweden have examined taxi services. We also continue to see several examples of actions against manufacturer-imposed restrictions on retailer behaviour, particularly against resale price maintenance, including actions in Argentina (bleach), Colombia (rice), Switzerland (musical instruments), and the United Kingdom (refrigerator and bathroom suppliers). The apparent concern with resale price maintenance in these jurisdictions might be seen to contrast with the dearth of public enforcement actions against these arrangements in the United States, which itself may reflect a change in the interpretation of the relevant law by United States Supreme Court several years ago.
Merger review and enforcement activity remains robust, and the chapters that follow note activity in many sectors, including in the telecommunications area in the United States, Spain, Greece, France, Croatia and Finland. We also see several reports of merger investigations in the healthcare area, including activity in Australia, Spain and the United States. Several of the reports, including the reports from the United States, Belgium and Germany, note enforcement activities arising out of merger process violations, such as the failure to properly report transactions.
Many jurisdictions continue to develop their approach to implementation of competition laws enacted in recent years. Of particular interest is the essay entitled ‘The Damages Directive, in search of a balance between public and private enforcement of the competition rules in Europe,’ which discusses the implementation of the 2014 European Commission Damages Directive.
Co-chair of the Paul, Weiss antitrust practice, Aidan Synnott focuses on antitrust litigation and compliance, intellectual property (IP) litigation and other complex commercial litigation. He has extensive trial experience in state and federal courts and in ADR forums, and frequently represents clients in antitrust investigations by the US and EU governmental agencies.
A fellow of the American Bar Foundation, he has been an associate editor of the Antitrust Law Journal and editorial board member of the American Bar Association’s Annual Review of Antitrust Law Developments. He was co-chair of the New York State Bar Association Section of Commercial and Federal Litigation’s Committee on Antitrust and a member of the Executive Committee of the Section. He has been a guest lecturer and speaker at New York University School of Law, the Wharton School and the University of Michigan Law School, and has published extensively in the areas of antitrust and IP law. He is recognised as a leading lawyer for his work in antitrust by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and The Best Lawyers in America. In addition, Aidan has been included in Who’s Who Legal of Competition Lawyers and Economists by Who’s Who Legal since 2013.
Mr Synnott earned his law degrees from the University of Michigan, the Honorable Society of King’s Inns and the National University of Ireland.
The publisher acknowledges and thanks the following for their learned assistance throughout the preparation of this book: