Section 2 Symposium: Alden Abbott on the International Perspective

As I indicated in my prior blog entry, U.S. competition policy vis-à-vis single firm conduct (“SFC”) is best viewed not in isolation, but, rather, in the context of other jurisdictions’ SFC enforcement philosophies, and efforts to promote greater SFC policy convergence worldwide.  Given the proliferation of competition law regimes, firms that do business in multiple jurisdictions either may have to:  (1) tailor their business plans (marketing and distributional arrangements, joint ventures, pricing policies, etc.) nation-by-nation to satisfy differences in national competition laws (an approach rife with transactions costs); or (2) adopt a single set of policies that meets the competition law requirements of the “most restrictive” jurisdiction (an approach that could yield selection of a “less than optimally efficient” business plan).  A further complication is caused by transactions whose effects spill across jurisdictional boundaries; a transaction that found favor in one jurisdiction may not find favor in other jurisdictions.  To add to the policy complexity, as private rights of action proliferate around the globe, difficult jurisdictional questions and conflict of law issues may be posed in the future; the greater the divergence among antitrust regimes, the higher will be the costs imposed on businesses associated with (ideally) avoiding and (if necessary) ironing out such complications.  Thus, even though there may be good policy justifications (associated with differences among nations in procedure, private enforcement, and other local factors) for some continued differentiation among national competition regimes – reasons that David Evans (see and others have ably expounded upon – there is a sound basis for efforts (rooted in business efficiency and transactions cost avoidance) to promote gradual convergence and thereby avoid the greatest burdens arising from multinational disharmony in this field.

Read the full piece here.