Today, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a 60-second summary for company directors to avoid disqualification for breaches of competition law. Please see the full text of the guidance here. This is part of a series of CMA short and simple guides on competition law and is relevant to all directors whose companies fall within the scope of EU or UK competition law.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom by a majority of 8 to 3 has today confirmed that triggering the exit procedure from the European Union requires an Act of Parliament.
As such the Supreme Court disagreed with the current UK Government which had argued that Government ministers could rely on their prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union without prior authorisation by Parliament. Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies had argued that they too should be consulted. The judges did not agree with that view.
Sheppard Mullin’s EU team has created a list of major legal shifts that await General Counsel and Compliance Officers in the areas of competition, EU regulatory and trade in 2017. These challenges may have an impact on your corporate and commercial strategies.
Our predictions include:
1. Higher Thresholds For HSR Filings
On January 19, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, higher thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The filing thresholds are revised annually, based on the change in gross national product and will be effective thirty days after publication in the Federal Register. Publication is expected within one week, so the new thresholds will likely become effective in late February 2017. Acquisitions that have not closed by the effective date will be subject to the new thresholds.
The center of gravity when it comes to private litigation of international antitrust disputes is still in the United States, but two trends affecting the legal landscape in the U.S., U.K., and EU are shifting it across the Atlantic. In this article originally published in Competition – The Journal of the Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section of the State Bar of California (Vol. 25, No. 2, Fall 2016), we address these trends and further discuss their implications for lawyers handling major antitrust disputes that have global footprints. Much of the discussion will focus on cartel litigation because those cases often involve global issues and present the most obvious examples for our discussion.
By the votes of a nation’s electors, the future of U.S. antitrust enforcement moved from “pragmatic aggressive enforcement as usual” to “too early to call.” The unexpected election of President-elect Donald J. Trump opened wide the speculation or mystery of what he and his advisors are planning as his administration’s antitrust policy. Given the paucity of his statements on antitrust policy, and the random nature of his few comments, we must dig deeply to formulate the outline of his enforcement plans or speculate about practices and policies in the spirit of the campaign’s “America First” rhetoric.
The U.S. Antitrust Agencies (the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission) recently issued a document entitled “Antitrust Guidance For Human Resource Professionals” intended to alert HR professionals to potential antitrust violations involving hiring and compensation decisions.
The Guidance states that firms that compete to hire or retain employees are competitors in the “employment marketplace,” regardless of whether they make the same products or compete to provide the same services. It advises that it is unlawful for competitors to expressly or implicitly agree not to compete and notes that the Antitrust Agencies have taken enforcement actions against employers that have agreed not to compete for employees. To underscore this, the Guidance briefly discusses the enforcement actions that the Antitrust Agencies have taken against entities for agreeing not to compete for employees or agreeing to uniform compensation terms, including actions against high profile technology companies.
Invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union requires participation of the UK Parliament say Lord Chief Justices Lord Sales and Lord Thomas of the Royal Courts of Justice in London who handed down their judgment today.
This is a significant step, but only a step along the way. The final outcome remains uncertain as this judgment will most likely be appealed by the Government to the Supreme Court. Hence, the uncertainty caused by Brexit to businesses remains if it is not further increased.
On Oct. 25, 2016, the European Commission released a “Study on the Passing-on of Overcharges” after a year-long evaluation and input process. The study will help judges, regulators and practitioners critically evaluate pass-on claims in European competition cases through both legal and economic lenses. The detailed 315-page report highlights the increasingly important role of pass-on in the EU, and compares EU law concerning pass-on with other jurisdictions, including the United States. This article gives an overview of the study’s results and predicts the effects of increasing pass-on litigation in the EU.
These are the words of Europe’s chief antitrust enforcer, Margrethe Vestager, introducing the Commission’s public hearing on October 6, 2016, on its preliminary findings of the e-commerce sector inquiry. The promise of e-commerce alluded to by the Commissioner for Competition means quite simply a wider choice of goods available for purchase online, at lower prices across the EU as well as cross-border access to digital content for consumers in the EU. The major concern for the Commission is that e-commerce still takes place nationally within the EU and not on a cross-border basis across the 28 Member States, because of contractual barriers erected by companies.