10 Ways to Preserve the Lustre of Leniency

This article is part of a Chronicle. See more from this Chronicle

Grant Murray, Douglas Tween, Feb 26, 2014

Today, the allure of antitrust immunity is unmistakable. Almost all of the most prominent global cartel cases have originated from immunity applications and, in recognition, new leniency regimes are being adopted or fine-tuned in all key antitrust regimes around the world. But there is a risk that a combination of shrinking resources devoted to enforcement, and a lack of transparency and convergence in existing leniency regimes, could lead to a decline in the efficiency of leniency regimes. In this article we suggest 10 steps that will prevent any decline from occurring.

The effectiveness of leniency regimes in unearthing serious antitrust violations is apparent in the European Union, where contemporary anticartel enforcement by the European Commission has been characterized by a sharp drop in own-initiative cases. In fact, since Commissioner Almunia’s tenure began in 2010, only one of the 20 cartel decisions adopted by the Commission is thought to have been an own-initiative case. Almunia’s predecessor, Commissioner Kroes, seemed to attach a high value to own-initiative cases-regularly taking the opportunity to emphasize the frequency and success of cases that the Commission had started itself-reminding the business community that cartels are weaker than their weakest member.

Of course, Almunia’s apparent reliance on the EU immunity program may reflect nothing mor…


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