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Legal standards and economic analysis in antitrust enforcement: an empirical investigation for the case of Greece

Benetatou, Kelly and Katsoulacos, Yannis (2020) Legal standards and economic analysis in antitrust enforcement: an empirical investigation for the case of Greece. GreeSE papers (144). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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The purpose of this paper is to explain the choice of legal standards of the Hellenic Competition Authority (HCC) concerning antitrust enforcement and the impact of this on the judicial review of the decisions reached. This paper is based on the methodology presented in a paper by Katsoulacos Y., S. Avdasheva, and S. Golovaneva (2019), which measures empirically the extent of economic analysis used and the legal standards (LSs) adopted by Competition Authorities (CAs). The methodology is applied to the appealed investigations of the HCC. In contrast to the theoretical analyses, systematic empirical assessments of LSs have been very limited. There are case studies based on particular decisions or meta-analysis of a group of decisions, but there is no statistical representation of the legal standards applied by competition authorities. The absence of empirical measurement and statistics on legal standards limits our ability to answer important questions. Thus, it makes any international comparisons of LSs applied in different jurisdictions and judgments on the role of economic analysis speculative. Further, it impedes the analysis of the evolution of LSs over time and explaining the factors that drive this evolution. Both issues are important for the identification of the deviation of legal standards actually applied in competition cases from their optimal level. For the purposes of this paper we collected and analysed a dataset of antitrust infringement decisions reached by the HCC, between 1997-2017, which were appealed to Courts for annulment. Our main objectives have been to use this dataset to examine to what extent economic analysis and evidence is used in the decisions of the HCC and how it evolves over time. Also, we examine how changes in the extent of economic analysis or variations in LSs, for any given conduct, is related to (how it affects) the probability that decisions on that conduct are annulled in appellate courts, as well as the effect of movements in LSs – from per se toward effects-based – on litigation costs and the duration of litigation. We show that on average, economic analysis still plays a very modest role in the investigations, as HCC applies close to per se legal standards even when assessing conducts for which effects-based LSs would be more suitable. There is no discernible evolution toward a more effect-based approach during the period 1995-2017. Further, the choice of LSs for specific conducts can create considerable legal uncertainty for firms about how these conducts will be assessed by the HCC. Overall, our empirical findings indicate low quality of enforcement. Our results are consistent with recent arguments, according to which, the higher disputability of decisions as a result of increasing the extent of economic analysis under effects-based LSs, increases the annulment rates of decisions under appeal.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Hellenic Observatory
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2020 12:12
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2021 00:43

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