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Academic Articles Awards > General Antitrust

Antitrust Overhaul

Richard M. Steuer, 80 Antitrust Law Journal No. 3, forthcoming 2016

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Readers’ vote will close on February 15, 2016. Readers’ vote will allow you to nominate 1 article for each of the Awards, i.e., 10 Academic articles, 10 Business articles, and the best Soft Laws. The readers’ short-list of Academic and Business Articles will be communicated to the Board together with the 20 articles nominated by the Steering Committees. The Board will decide on the award-winning articles. Results will be announced at the Awards ceremony to take place in Washington DC on the eve of the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting on April 5, 2016.

The time is coming to overhaul America’s antitrust statutes.
The language is dated and much of it fails to convey what the courts have interpreted it to mean. Certain words differ from terminology that has come to be widely used elsewhere, even when there is no real difference in meaning. This can be mystifying, both in the United States and the world over.
More than a hundred countries have competition laws today, and there is widespread support for greater harmonization. Conceptually, these laws already resemble each other in substance, even though procedures vary widely. Many also resemble each other in their structure and wording because they were modeled after one another.
America’s antitrust laws are different. They resemble the rest in substance, which is not surprising since they were precursors of those that followed. In wording and structure, however, America’s antitrust laws are riddled with idiosyncrasies that resemble no other law in the world. This makes it harder for Americans to advocate greater global harmonization. The U.S. statutes date back to the 19th Century and are freighted with old baggage, making it difficult to draw comparisons with legal interpretations in other parts of the world.
The solution is not to adopt a universal competition law—a goal that has proven elusive at best—but to streamline one nation’s law at a time. For decades, groups from the League of Nations to the World Trade Organization have tried to craft a global competition statute on which nations could agree. None has succeeded and none seems likely to succeed in the foreseeable future. But there is no need to wait for consensus, which may never come. A more realistic approach is for each nation to move at its own pace as far as it comfortably can in the direction of the others. They may never all meet in the middle, but the result would be a substantial improvement over the situation that exists today.

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