Competition law is an exciting area of law, working at the confluence of law and
economics; it tries to ensure that businesses do not restrict or distort competition in a free
market economy. Competition is considered beneficial, because when firms compete for
customers, they are encouraged to produce the best quality products or services through
innovation at the minimum price, which is good for consumers.
The benefits of competition may be lost where, for example, producers agree to engage in
cartel activity, fix their prices or divide the market between them. Under such conditions,
firms stop innovating, the directors may spend too much time on the golf course (safe in
the knowledge that their competitors, if any, are also doing so!) rather than considering
how best to satisfy their customers’ needs. As a result, customers are often worse off than
they would otherwise be.
Competition law attempts to promote competition by, for example, preventing firms from
entering into anti-competitive agreements (such as fixing prices and dividing markets),
preventing powerful firms from abusing their dominant position and preventing firms
from restricting competition by merging with their competitors (which would also, for
example, limit/ eliminate competition between the merging firms). It is hard to escape
competition issues when reading today’s newspaper. Think about the current Google
investigations/cases. There are some interesting previous cases involving Microsoft, and
Sotheby’s and Christie’s in the art auction market; and on-going cases against Intel and
the banks (just to name a few).
The course considers issues, which are fascinating to study, and which are also of major
practical importance to lawyer, businesses and consumers. Firms, which are found to
have contravened EU competition law, may be subjected to large fines (10% of their
worldwide turnover); damages actions (from those they have harmed); and may also find
that the commercial agreements they have concluded are unenforceable.
Module Aims:
The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the key principles, policies and
procedures in competition law in an international context. The course will draw on
relevant legislation and case law from the European Union (TFEU Articles 101 and 102)
and the United States (Sherman Act Sections 1 and 2).
Throughout the course we consider the underlying objectives of the competition rules and
the mechanisms for the enforcement of the rules by both public enforcement authorities
and individuals. For example, should competition law be concerned exclusively with
competition matters or also with, for example, integrating the internal market, protecting
small, but arguably less efficient businesses, preventing unemployment, environmental
protection or eradicating regional discrepancies?

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