Monday, May 13, 2013
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Alden F. Abbott, Government of the United States of America - Federal Trade Commission and Seth B. Sacher, Federal Trade Commission counsel on Avoiding the 'Robin Hood Syndrome' in Developing Antitrust Jurisdictions.
ABSTRACT: It has been our observation that in many developing jurisdictions, competition agencies intervene in what are essentially regulatory or contracting matters or even law enforcement matters. Sometimes this is done of their own volition, but it is frequently in response to requests from regulators or other enforcement agencies, possibly due to shortcomings in these agencies’ own enforcement capabilities, We call this tendency of competition enforcers in developing jurisdictions to shoulder responsibilities beyond antitrust enforcement the “Robin Hood Syndrome.” While the lines between antitrust, regulation and contract law may not always be definitively drawn, and all competition agencies struggle with the appropriate boundaries, we argue that competition enforcers in newer agencies should be particularly mindful of the distinction. Undertaking such roles can undermine good competition enforcement as well as hinder the development of an effective regulatory regime and undermine the rule of law. Competition agencies have a vital role to play in advancing social welfare in developing economies by focusing on enforcing competition law and promoting market-oriented reforms. To avoid undermining their effectiveness, they should stick to this role, and avoid pressures or temptations to engage in activities beyond their core competencies.