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Cover Competition Law

5. Article 102  

This chapter discusses the main features of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which is concerned with the abusive conduct of dominant firms. It begins by introducing the European Commission’s Guidance on the Commission’s enforcement priorities in applying Article [102 TFEU] to abusive exclusionary conduct by dominant undertakings. It then discusses the concept of undertaking, the requirement of an effect on trade between Member States, the concept of a dominant position and the requirement that any dominant position must be held in a substantial part of the internal market. The chapter also considers the meaning of abuse of a dominant position, which is a complex and controversial issue. A discussion of the defences to allegations of abuse is followed by a brief look at the consequences of infringing Article 102.

Chapter

Cover Competition Law

21. Mergers (2): EU law  

This chapter examines EU merger control. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 provides an overview of EU merger control. Section 3 discusses the jurisdictional rules which determine whether a particular merger should be investigated by the European Commission in Brussels or by the national competition authorities (‘the NCAs’) of the Member States. Section 4 deals with the procedural considerations such as the mandatory pre-notification to the Commission of mergers that have a Union dimension and the timetable within which the Commission must operate. Section 5 discusses the substantive analysis of mergers under the EU Merger Regulation (EUMR), and section 6 explains the procedure whereby the Commission may authorise a merger on the basis of commitments, often referred to as remedies, offered by the parties to address its competition concerns. The subsequent sections describe the Commission’s powers of investigation and enforcement, judicial review of Commission decisions by the EU Courts and cooperation between the Commission and other competition authorities, both within and outside the EU. The chapter concludes with an examination of how the EUMR merger control provisions work in practice.

Chapter

Cover Competition Law

7. Articles 101 and 102: public enforcement by the European Commission and national competition authorities under Regulation 1/2003  

This chapter explains the public enforcement of Articles 101 and 102 by European Commission and the national competition authorities under Regulation 1/2003. It begins by describing the Commission’s powers of investigation and enforcement, including its power to accept commitments, its leniency programme, the cartel settlement procedure, and its power to impose financial penalties. It then discusses the operation of Regulation 1/2003 in practice, with particular reference to the European Competition Network (‘the ECN’) that brings together the Commission and the national competition authorities of the Member States (‘the NCAs’) and the ECN+ Directive that strengthens the powers of the NCAs. The chapter concludes by providing a brief account of judicial review of the Commission’s decisions.

Chapter

Cover Competition Law

8. Articles 101 and 102: private enforcement in the courts of Member States  

This chapter describes the private enforcement of competition law, that is to say the situation where litigants take their disputes to a domestic court or, quite often, to arbitration. It will deal with the private enforcement of Articles 101 and/or 102 as a matter of EU law, with particular emphasis on the Damages Directive. It also describes private actions for damages and injunctions in the High Court and the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. The chapter considers the use of competition law as a defence, for example to an action for breach of contract or infringement of an intellectual property right. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of issues that can arise where competition law disputes are referred to arbitration rather than to a court for resolution.

Chapter

Cover Competition Law

10. Competition Act 1998 and the cartel offence: public enforcement and procedure  

This chapter describes the system of public enforcement under the Competition Act 1998. This chapter begins with a consideration of the way in which inquiries and investigations are carried out under the Competition Act. It briefly considers the position of complainants to the CMA, followed by a discussion of the extent to which it may be possible to receive guidance from the CMA on the application of the Act. The chapter then describes the powers of the CMA to enforce the Competition Act, the criminal law cartel offence and the provisions on company director disqualification. It concludes with a discussion of concurrency, appeals under the Competition Act and the Government’s review of the operation of the Competition Act between 2014 and 2019.

Chapter

Cover Competition Law

18. Abuse of dominance (2): pricing practices  

This chapter considers abusive pricing practices under Article 102 TFEU and the Chapter II prohibition in the Competition Act 1998. It first discusses various cost concepts used in determining whether a price is abusive. It then deals in turn with excessive pricing; conditional rebates; bundling; predatory pricing; margin squeeze; price discrimination; and practices that are harmful to the single market. This taxonomy is over-schematic, in that the categories overlap with one another: for example price discrimination may be both exploitative and exclusionary, and an excessively high price may in reality be a way of preventing parallel imports or of excluding a competitor from the market; nevertheless this division may provide helpful insights into the way in which the law is applied in practice. In each section the application of Article 102 by the European Commission and by the EU Courts will be considered first, followed by cases in the UK. Reference will be made where appropriate to the Commission’s Guidance on the Commission’s Enforcement Priorities in Applying Article [102 TFEU] to Abusive Exclusionary Conduct by Dominant Undertakings.