Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rules Versus Standards in Antitrust Adjudication

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Dan Crane of Cardozo Law School (whom I finally met on Thursday night) has an article forthcoming in the Washington & Lee Law Review that is worth reading-- Rules Versus Standards in Antitrust Adjudication.

ABSTRACT: Antitrust law is moving away from rules (ex ante, limited factor liability determinants) and toward standards (ex post, multi-factor liability determinants). This movement has important consequences for the structure of antitrust adjudication, including shifting ultimate decision-making down the legal hierarchy (in the direction of juries, trial courts sitting as fact-finders, and administrative agencies) and increasing the importance of economic experts. The efficiency consequences of this trend are often negative. Specifying liability determinants as open-ended, unpredictable standards increases litigation costs, chills socially beneficial industrial practices, allocates decision-making on microeconomic policy to unqualified juries, and facilitates strategic misuse of antitrust litigation by rent-seeking competitors. Instead of following a generalized preference for standards, courts should consider five factors in choosing the ex ante precision of liability determinants: (1) whether the lawsuit was brought by the government or a private party;  (2) whether the legal determinant would create liability or immunize against it; (3) whether  the remedy sought is prospective (i.e., injunctive) or retrospective (i.e., damages); (4) whether the conduct is idiosyncratic or paradigmatic; and (5) whether the misconduct alleged is collusion or exclusion.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/2007/04/rules_versus_st.html

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