‘We help our clients put forward robust, evidence-based arguments in front of competition authorities.’
In this Q&A, a panel of Oxera economic experts discuss the success stories and key issues our clients face in such cases.
What key issues do our clients face in antitrust cases?
Dr Avantika Chowdhury Antitrust issues arise from potentially anticompetitive behaviour by one or more firms in a market.
Dr Gunnar Niels The first type of concern our clients have is when a specific business practice of a single large firm is considered to be harming competition, which is referred to as an abuse of dominance case. The second type of case arises when an agreement between two or more firms appears to be hindering competition.
Pascale Déchamps Antitrust cases can take the form of investigations by competition authorities, or in the context of commercial litigation. Such investigations can lead to large fines, a ban on the practice or ongoing regulation, and exposure to damages claims from customers and competitors. They can also be deeply damaging for turnover and reputation. In this context, we work with companies being investigated to assess the allegations by competition authorities.
GN In litigation cases, for example, one company may accuse a large incumbent competitor, or one of its key suppliers, of harming competition. In this context, we may work with one of the companies involved or we may be directly appointed as experts to the court.
Who are the main client groups Oxera works with?
AC On virtually all antitrust cases we work on, we collaborate with intermediaries, usually law firms that advise the client on legal issues relating to the case.
GN Partners and associates in these law firms often want help with economic aspects of the investigation. They’ll want us to assess the strength of the authority’s case against their client, for example by assessing whether the client is indeed powerful enough to hinder competition.
AC They’ll need stand-alone economic analysis they can submit, as well as support in dealing with the authority’s own economists and answering their queries and data requests.
GN Many corporate clients put their own specialists on a case, especially if it involves a practice fundamental to their business. Everyone is concerned with costs and wants to make sure external advisers, including economists, spend their time efficiently and focus on the most fruitful lines of argument against any allegations..
What are our clients’ most pressing needs?
PD In the context of investigations by authorities, our clients want to avoid large penalties and, if possible, avoid an infringement finding altogether.
AC If our client is a competitor of the dominant company or other third party, they’ll want the investigation to drive change. This might mean removing restrictions that prevent them growing their business and competing against the large companies in the market. These other companies may also use competition law and take their competitors to court to drive such changes.
GN Clients can also come to us for advice before the launch of a formal competition investigation. They might have had a complaint from a customer or competitor. Or they might just want to speak to us as part of their compliance assessment. They’ll want to know whether, and to what extent, a specific business practice might raise authorities’ concern.
What are the most valuable benefits we provide our clients?
GN Our compliance advice can help businesses avoid competition investigations. By advising on how a competition authority might view a practice, we help clients work within the law and consider less risky ways of reaching objectives.
AC We help our clients put forward robust, evidence-based arguments in front of competition authorities. The sort of argument authorities find hard to undermine.
PD The analysis we give can determine whether a competition authority decides against our client. The authority can even close an investigation against a client because of our economic input, including theoretical and quantitative analysis. analysis.
GN We also help clients achieve their ideal outcomes in litigation. Thanks to our analysis and compelling expert reports, we help them arrive at the outcomes they want. This may involve a settlement with the other side, where the specific conduct or behaviour under dispute is modified, or a court judgment.