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Competition law enforcement is no longer limited to a few countries but has become widespread across the globe. Over 100 countries have enacted competition laws and established competition law enforcement agencies. Since an ever growing number of companies are operating in or selling into other countries, they are subject to the competition laws of multiple jurisdictions. For example, companies that do business internationally can be faced with merger reviews in several different countries if they try to merge with, or acquire, another company. Their business practices and conduct can also be subject to simultaneous civil or criminal investigations in a number of countries. As a result, it has become increasingly important for antitrust lawyers and government enforcers in the United States and other countries to become familiar with the competition laws and enforcement practices of various countries throughout the world.
The American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law (the Section) has been the pre-eminent provider of educational programmes and publications for antitrust practitioners for many years. While it historically concentrated on the antitrust laws of the United States, it has expanded its focus and reach to provide similar educational opportunities relating to the competition laws and enforcement activities in other countries. It has done this in response to the increasing globalisation of business and the growth of competition law enforcement throughout the world.
The following are some of the Antitrust Law Section’s many programmes, publications and activities relating to international antitrust.
The Antitrust Law Section’s commitment to providing education and increasing knowledge about international competition laws is reflected in its programming. Some highlights from the Section’s programmes between August 2014 and July 2015 are as follows:
Antitrust Masters Course: Williamsburg, VA (8–11 October 2014)
The Antitrust Masters Course features highly respected practitioners, academics and government enforcers in antitrust and consumer protection law. It is aimed at ‘rising stars’ in the antitrust and consumer protection fields with four to 10 years’ experience at law firms, government agencies and corporations.
Fall Forum: Washington, DC (6 November 2014)
In this annual programme, senior US government enforcement officials and leading practitioners discuss recent developments, enforcement priorities and policy initiatives. A major focus of this programme is on Department of Justice and Fair Trade Commission enforcement activities, including their cooperative activities with enforcement agencies in other countries.
Consumer Protection Conference: Washington, DC (12 February 2015)
This bi-annual programme focuses on recent developments and enforcement activities in the areas of consumer protection and privacy. It will explore the ‘hot’ privacy issues that have arisen in the US and other countries.
Spring Meeting: Washington, DC (15–17 April 2015)
The Section’s annual Spring Meeting is the premier competition law conference in the world. Last year, over 2,900 competition law attorneys and government enforcers attended the conference, including more than 600 attorneys and government officials from over 50 countries outside the US. The conference consisted of approximately 50 CLE programmes and numerous networking events. This meeting is a ‘must attend’ for competition law attorneys and government enforcers.
Antitrust in Americas Conference: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (11–12 June 2015)
Leading enforcement officials, competition practitioners and academics will gather for this bi-annual conference devoted to competition law developments in Latin America and Central America. Attendees will have a unique opportunity to interact with senior government enforcement officials, competition practitioners and economists from Latin America as well as the US and Canada.
The Antitrust Law Section is perhaps best known for its signature publications, which are unparalled both in quality and quantity. It 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 past decade. The Section’s Antitrust Law Developments (now in its seventh 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 books on the application of antitrust law to intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, technology industries and energy.
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, teleseminars, newsletters, blogs and discussion groups. 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 those entities.
Civil Redress Committee
This recently created committee brings together antirust 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 committee could not be more relevant, as more foreign jurisdictions, such as the EU, 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 over 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 Sectorial 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 Law Section’s leadership ranks reflect the global community that we serve. Over 40 international members participate in our Section leadership as committee chairs, vice chairs, publication editors and task force members. These leaders hail from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The best path to Section leadership is through involvement in a committee, publication or task force. Membership in the Section’s committees is open to all of our members and opportunities to write are plentiful. I hope you will consider becoming an active member of the Section of Antitrust Law by joining a committee or write a piece for a publication. You will learn a great deal, have wonderful networking opportunities and enjoy your experience. Your work will clearly benefit from joining the premier organisation of competition and consumer protection professionals in the world.