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The Relationship between Public Antitrust Enforcement and Private Actions for Damages

World Competition, Vol. 32, No. 1, March 2009

32 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2008 Last revised: 27 Nov 2013

Wouter P. J. Wils

King's College London; European Commission

Date Written: November 6, 2008

Abstract

This paper concerns the relationship between public antitrust enforcement and private actions for damages, focusing in particular on the enforcement of Articles 81 and 82 EC. In the first half of the paper, I examine the respective roles of public antitrust enforcement and private actions for damages. I argue that public enforcement should aim at clarifying and developing the antitrust prohibitions and deterring and punishing violations, whereas private actions for damages should aim at compensation. This corresponds to the approach adopted by the European Commission in its 2008 White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules, and differs from the US approach which views damages actions as an instrument of deterrence. In the second half of the paper, I analyse a number of specific issues concerning the interaction between public antitrust enforcement and private actions for damages: the binding effect of the finding of a violation in public enforcement proceedings on follow-on actions for damages; access to the public enforcement file; encouragement of voluntary compensation through fine rebates, as a condition for leniency, or as part of settlements; punitive damages; private demand for public enforcement; the impact of private actions for damages on substantive law; and their impact on leniency.

Keywords: antitrust, public enforcement, private enforcement, damages, deterrence, compenastion, punitive damages, leniency

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K13, K14, K20, K21, K40, K41, K42, L40

Suggested Citation

Wils, Wouter P. J., The Relationship between Public Antitrust Enforcement and Private Actions for Damages (November 6, 2008). World Competition, Vol. 32, No. 1, March 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1296458

Wouter P. J. Wils (Contact Author)

King's College London

Somerset House East Wing
Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

European Commission ( email )

Brussels, B-1049
Belgium

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