Although it is commonly assumed that consumers benefit from theapplication of competition law, this is not necessarily always the case.Economic efficiency is paramount; thus, competition law in Europe andantitrust law in the United States are designed primarily to protect businesscompetitors (and in Europe to promote market integration), and it is onlyincidentally that such law may also serve to protect consumers.
That is the essential starting point of this penetrating critique. The authorexplores the extent to which US antitrust law and EC competition lawadequately safeguard consumer interests. Specifically, he shows how the twojurisdictions have gone about evaluating collusive practices, abusive conductby dominant firms and merger activity, and how the policies thus formed haveimpacted upon the promotion of consumer interests. He argues that unlessconsumer interests are directly and specifically addressed in the assessmentprocess, maximization of consumer welfare is not sufficiently achieved.Using rigorous analysis he develops legal arguments that can accomplish suchgoals as the following:;replace the economic theory of ‘consumer welfare’ with a principle of consumerwell-being;build consumer benefits into specific areas of competition policy;assess competition cases so that income distribution effects are morebeneficial to consumers; andcontrol mergers in such a way that efficiencies are passed directly toconsumers.The author argues that, in the last analysis, the promotion of consumerwell-being should be the sole or at least the primary goal of any antitrustregime.Lawyers and scholars interested in the application and development and reformof competition law and policy will welcome this book. They will find not onlya fresh approach to interpretation and practice in their field – comparing andcontrasting two major systems of competition law – but also an extremely lucidanalysis of the various economic arguments used to highlight the consumerwelfare enhancing or welfare reducing effects of business practices.
show more show less