In years past, the focus of private international antitrust disputes was the United States. Over a century of experience, treble damages, class actions and the American rule for attorneys’ fees – plus robust enforcement by the Antitrust Division – have combined to make the United States the natural hub for private cases. That is still true today, but to a lesser extent because emerging private remedies and processes have made European jurisdictions much more viable, and U.S. courts are taking an increasingly close look at the limits of their jurisdiction. The result is litigation increasing across newly empowered jurisdictions: sophisticated and well informed coordination, case management and overarching strategy now are critical. Continue Reading
On 29 March 2017, the same day that United Kingdom has officially launched the Brexit process, the European Commission (Commission) blocked the proposed 29 billion Euro merger between Deutsche Börse AG (DBAG) and London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) under the EU Merger Regulation; however, the Commission decision (M.7995) has not been published yet. DBAG and LSEG are the two largest stock exchange operators and own the stock exchanges of Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as several of the largest European clearing houses. In August 2016, the parties filed a merger notification to the Commission with discussions starting as early as February 2016. Since 2000, DBAG and LSEG have tried to merge three times hoping to create a heavyweight in the European stock market. DBAG had previously already been blocked to merge with NYSE Euronext in 2012.
The antitrust injury and antitrust standing defenses/doctrines are alive and well in healthcare. A recent case, SCPH Legacy Corp. et al. v. Palmetto Health et al., shows that a competitor is not always the most legally appropriate plaintiff to bring an antitrust case, especially when the competitor’s alleged harm stems from increased competition. This article explains the court’s reasoning and makes some predictions for similar arguments in the future.
If we needed any reminder that the competitiveness of e-commerce was high on the European Commission’s enforcement agenda, we now have unequivocal proof of this. The Commission today launched three separate investigations under the competition rules against companies operating in the (i) consumer electronics, (ii) video games and (iii) hotel sectors. It is looking into whether these companies are breaching EU competition rules by unfairly restricting retail online prices and/or by excluding customers from certain online offers because of their nationality or location.
In the past, the Antitrust Division has used its “Frequently Asked Questions” piece to announce significant changes in the Amnesty Program. In November 2008, for example, they made mandatory an explicit admission of criminal wrongdoing. Before then, the applicant need only have reported “possible” criminal activity. FAQs, p.6, fn. 7
The Division’s January 17, 2017, edition makes two more very significant changes: (1) to obtain a marker, counsel must identify the client (FAQs, p.3) and (2) amnesty for executives is not guaranteed under the often-used Type B Leniency. In that situation, “…the Division has more discretion…”( FAQs, p. 22).
Practitioners interested in the real world application of an attempt to monopolize claim under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, will find Savory Pie Guy a “good read” for the New Year. Savory Pie Guy, LLC v. Comtec Industries, Ltd., No. 14-CV-7527, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179317 (S.D.N.Y. December 28, 2016). Since the passage of the Sherman Act in 1890, attempted monopolization as a distinct legal theory of liability has received scant attention. It is usually bundled with a set of other but related antitrust theories of liability, including concerted activities in restraint of trade, and often tying and refusal to deal claims. For most of its existence, the theory of attempted monopolization has been under-analyzed intellectually. Savory Pie Guy provides a good and succinct analysis of the distinct elements of an attempt to monopolize claim, and their inter-relationship to the over-arching concept of “monopolization.”
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.