A US antitrust scholar once asked: ‘Is international antitrust possible?’1 At one time, it was difficult to imagine the possibility of global convergence on principles of competition law. But today it is even more difficult to imagine how we can proceed without it. Much has changed since the United States adopted the Sherman Act over 120 years ago. Today, nearly every major corporation has an international presence, and just about every consumer good is manufactured and distributed through a complex global supply chain. It should come as no surprise that legal regimes have followed suit and sprouted around the world to protect competition and promote consumer welfare. Transactions face concurrent reviews from an ever-increasing number of antitrust authorities across the globe. Likewise, cartels face investigation and prosecution from enforcers in multiple jurisdictions. And each year, more countries adopt mechanisms for private enforcement of antitrust laws. With the globalisation of competition law certainly comes greater risks and exposure for firms operating internationally – but there is also the prospect of sharing knowledge about best practices, discovering common ground and increasing the fairness and consistency of antitrust enforcement across borders.
To this end, it has long been a top priority of the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law to build knowledge and promote communication about competition and consumer protection law around the world. Here is a snapshot of how we carry out that global mission.
Serving the global competition and consumer protection law community starts with the Antitrust Section’s signature programming. The upcoming year marks the 62nd Annual Spring Meeting in Washington, DC, the return of our biannual International Cartel Workshop in Rome, and a debut antitrust programme for the Section in Beijing. Below are some of the conference highlights of this coming year.
Merger Practice Workshop: Washington, DC (12 September 2013)
This new demonstration-based programme takes the audience inside the life cycle of a hypothetical merger, from pre-signing antitrust counselling to negotiating remedies and consent decrees, as leading enforcers and private practitioners demonstrate how critical decisions are actually made. It is an unparalleled opportunity to gain deep practical insights into the US merger review process from some of the most experienced practitioners in the government, corporate and private practice sectors.
Antitrust and IP: Stanford Law School (10 October 2013)
Held at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley, this conference is addressed to the critical intersection of antitrust and intellectual property law, and will deeply explore cutting-edge antitrust issues and risks related to patent aggregation, standard-essential patents and the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Fall Forum: Washington, DC (14 November 2013)
In this flagship annual Section programme, senior US government enforcement officials and practitioners discuss the latest antitrust cases and policy developments, including antitrust enforcement in high technology, international cooperation, and DOJ and FTC enforcement priorities.
International Cartel Workshop: Rome (19–21 February 2014)
The International Cartel Workshop, recognised globally as the preeminent international cartel programme, is always a sell-out. The 2014 programme continues the Workshop’s tradition of instruction by demonstration; experienced faculty from around the globe will take you inside a hypothetical international cartel matter – from detection by government enforcers to the disposition of government prosecutions and private damage claims. The international faculty includes many of the most accomplished cartel attorneys in the world, as well as senior cartel enforcement officials from many jurisdictions.
Spring Meeting: Washington, DC (26–28 March 2014)
Each year, nearly 3,000 leading members of the global competition community converge in Washington, DC, for the premier competition law event of the year: the ABA Section of Antitrust Law’s Spring Meeting. In 2013, the Spring Meeting featured over 50 separate segments on every antitrust and consumer protection topic imaginable. In addition, the meeting hosted thousands of attendees that included over 600 government enforcers and practitioners from 58 countries outside the United States. The Spring Meeting is not to be missed.
Antitrust in Asia: China (22–23 May 2014)
Leading practitioners, enforcement officials and academics will gather in Beijing for this timely conference devoted to competition developments in and affecting China. This event presents a unique opportunity to gain insights into the application of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with senior Chinese enforcement officials, judges and practitioners, as well as top antitrust lawyers and economists from the US, Asia, Europe and Canada.
The Section is perhaps best known for its signature publications, which are unparalleled both in quality and quantity. The Section publishes three regular periodicals: Antitrust Magazine, a magazine devoted to featuring forward-looking articles of interest to practitioners that is published three times a year, with a subscriber base in excess of 9,000; The Antitrust Source, a bimonthly online magazine featuring in-depth commentary on the hottest topics in antitrust and consumer protection law; and Antitrust Law Journal, the premier antitrust law journal in the United States – and also the most frequently cited publication of its kind by US courts in antitrust litigation over the course of the last decade. The Section’s Antitrust Law Developments (now in its 7th edition) and Consumer Protection Law Developments are the gold standards for antitrust and consumer protection reference works worldwide. The Section’s publications catalogue also includes more than 80 in-depth treatises, handbooks, practices guides and manuals. This year, some of our most anticipated new releases include revised editions of the Joint Ventures Handbook, the Premerger Notification Practice Manual and the Intellectual Property & Antitrust Handbook.
Task forces and committees
Our Section’s committees and task forces play a critical role in keeping our members informed and up to date on the latest developments in antitrust and consumer protection law, through telephonic committee programmes and teleseminars, newsletters, blogs and discussion forums. They also help formulate comments that the Section submits to competition and consumer protection regimes around the world regarding proposed enforcement initiatives, statutes, guidelines and regulations. Below, I highlight just a few of these entities.
Civil Redress Committee
This newly-created committee brings together antitrust practitioners, public agency enforcers and members of the judiciary from around the world to examine and address the complex procedural questions posed by private competition enforcement. The mission of this newly established committee could not be more relevant, as more foreign jurisdictions adopt mechanisms for private civil enforcement of competition laws.
Privacy and Information Security Committee
In today’s world of rapid technological development and increasing globalisation, this committee plays a crucial role in helping Section members stay informed and up to date on key privacy and data security issues at the state, federal and international levels.
International Task Force
Since its inception in 2008, the International Task Force has contributed nearly 100 sets of comments on draft competition legislation, the vast majority of which were submitted to competition authorities and legislative bodies in jurisdictions outside the United States, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United Kingdom.
Foreign Investment, Trade Policy and Sectoral Review Task Force
This new Task Force will examine the interplay between antitrust merger control and the ancillary reviews such as foreign investment controls, trade regulations, and sectoral reviews that frequently accompany important international M&A transactions.
In addition, the Antitrust Section’s leadership ranks increasingly reflect the global community that we serve. This year, we welcomed a record 42 international members to our Section Leadership ranks as committee chairs, vice chairs, publication editors, and task force members. These leaders hail from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The best path to Section leadership is through involvement in a committee or publication. Membership in the Section’s committees is open to all of our members, and opportunities to write are plentiful. I invite each of you to become active members of the Section of Antitrust Law, take your Section membership to the next level, and join a committee or write a piece for publication. You will learn a lot, enjoy yourself, and you won’t find a better community of competition and consumer protection professionals anywhere else in the world.
- Andrew T Guzman. ‘Is International Antitrust Possible?’ New York University Law Review 73 (1998): 1501-1548.