Author Archives: Tom Cleaver

Anticompetitive behaviour by professional regulators – Wouters naturalised

The ECJ’s judgment in Case C-309/99 Wouters – that the Dutch legal regulator was an association of undertakings for the purposes of competition law, but that its prohibition on partnerships between lawyers and accountants nevertheless fell outside Article 101(1) having regard to its context and objectives – was a controversial one.

To some it suggested the emergence in European competition law of a “rule of reason”. Professor Whish preferred to treat it as an example of a standalone doctrine of “regulatory ancillarity” that enabled the courts to overlook the incidentally anticompetitive effects of primarily regulatory measures. Whatever the explanation, it was clear that the ECJ had introduced a doctrine which cut across the express wording of Article 101(1) and allowed measures of certain types to benefit from an unwritten exemption. It was unclear whether that doctrine was a new beginning or an evolutionary dead-end. Continue reading

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As long as the regulator’s foot

The Court of Appeal’s remarks in BT v Ofcom (Partial Private Circuits) make Ofcom’s dispute-resolution power a still more distinctive alternative to court litigation, and in the right circumstances a more attractive one.  

The appeal arose out of a dispute, brought to Ofcom under s.185 Communications Act 2003, about whether BT had overcharged for partial private circuits (“PPCs”), components necessary for other communications providers to extend their networks. Ofcom decided in 2009 that it had, and ordered repayment. That decision was upheld by the CAT on appeal.

Much of BT’s further appeal to the Court revolved around whether Ofcom had failed to take various aspects of the domestic and European regulatory framework into account. The Court ruled that it had not.

But there were two issues of greater long-term interest. Continue reading

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Filed under Damages, Telecoms