The Inefficiency of Quasi-Per Se Rules: Regulating Information Exchange in EU and U.S. Antitrust Law
57:1 American Business Law Journal 45-111 (2020)
49 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2019 Last revised: 14 May 2020
Date Written: July 31, 2019
It is well understood that the exchange of information between horizontal competitors can violate competition law provisions in both the European Union and the United States; namely, Art 101 TFEU and Section 1 of the Sherman Act. However, despite ostensible similarities between EU and U.S. antitrust law concerning inter-firm information exchange, substantial differences remain. In this article, we make a normative argument for the U.S. antitrust regime’s approach, on the basis that the United States’ approach to information exchange is likely to be more efficient than the relevant approach under the EU competition regime. Using economic theories of harm concerning information exchange to understand the imposition of liability in relation to “stand-alone” instances of information exchange, we argue that such liability must be grounded on the conception of a prophylactic rule. We characterize this rule as a form of ex ante regulation and explain why it has no ex post counterpart in antitrust law. In contrast to the U.S. antitrust regime, we argue that the implementation of such a rule pursuant to EU competition law leads to higher error costs without a significant reduction in regulatory costs. As a majority of jurisdictions have competition law regimes that resemble EU competition law more closely than U.S. antitrust law, our thesis has important implications for competition regimes around the world.
Keywords: Antitrust, Competition Law, Information Exchange, Collusion
JEL Classification: K21, L41, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation