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QLLM306 Competition enforcement: From investigation to sanctions (Sem 2)

Module Description

The European Commission is empowered to send information requests to companies, enter the premises of companies, examine the records related to the business, take copies of those records, seal the business premises and records during an inspection, ask members of staff or company representatives questions relating to the subject-matter and purpose of the inspection and record the answers.
At the end of the initial investigative phase, the Commission can take the decision to pursue the case as a matter of priority and to conduct an in-depth investigation, or to close it. Alternatively to a prohibition decision the Commission may take a commitment decision under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. This is a quick way of restoring effective competition to the market.

Finally, as the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission states, infringements of competition rules, such as price cartels and abuses of a dominant position in the market, are not only negative for the economy and consumers as a whole: they also cause direct harm to the infringer's customers and competitors (e.g. higher prices, lost profits). The European Court of Justice held that any citizen or business who suffers harm as a result of such breaches is entitled to compensation from the infringers. Thus, any citizen or business which suffers harm as a result of a breach of the EU competition rules is entitled to claim compensation from the party who caused it. This means that the victims of competition law infringements can bring an action for damages before the national courts.

Aims

This module seeks to give students a thorough understanding of the procedures and enforcement of competition law in Europe.

Pursuant to Regulation 1/2003, all national competition authorities in EU Member States and the national courts are bestowed with the responsibility to enforce the competition legislation of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union in addition to their own national competition laws. Thus, ensuring a solid, detailed understanding of the procedural issues that arise in competition enforcement is essential. In addition, there has been a strong increasing trend in a number of jurisdictions (eg EU, USA etc) to encourage private enforcement in addition to the public enforcement of competition legislation. Private enforcement gives rises to a number of interesting issues, most importantly the issue of damages award and the quantification of these damages. Thus, competition lawyers need to be familiar with such private enforcement "avenues" and have a detailed understanding of all the options that currently exist for the enforcement of competition laws.

Applicable programmes

Mode of Assessment

7,500 word course essay

Credits

22.5 Credits

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