Competition lawyers
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This article is written by Preeti Pallavi Jena, from School of Law, KIIT University, Odisha. This article discusses the lawyers who choose competition law as a career and their income.

Introduction 

The competition law tries to be beneficial for the consumers by being fair to them in the marketplace. It is basically divided into 2 main parts: 

  • Antitrust 

Which prevents the abuse of dominance in the market place and anti-competitive agreements among the players.

  • Merger control

Through mergers and acquisitions, it restricts companies from getting dominant.

The competition law focuses on commercial awareness and also high academic standards.

Antitrust law

In the United States, the competition law is known as antitrust law. This law is a combination of federal and state government. The law will evaluate the conduct for promoting competition among the customers.

The major distinction among the US antitrust and the UK and EU competition law is that the EU has a system that is based on administrative law and that is why the enforcement of it in the EU punishes the companies with fines. But in the case of the US antitrust, the enforcement is on criminal law, and hence, in both ways, they can be punished by imprisonment or with fines or with both depending on the circumstances.

Typical transaction

The competition lawyers are responsible for both the antitrust and also merger controls and they also advise their clients on various issues. These competition lawyers try to include larger and well-known companies that will influence competitions and include merger and acquisition transactions. This cartel starts when the competition authority collects evidence and also gives advice to the party or their clients. This advice will help them to achieve better benefits. These cartel cases keep going on for several years but merger cases are completed early.

If a case is an easier one, then junior lawyers are given the opportunity for handling it but generally, competition laws are very complex and difficult to solve. And if there is a huge or large case then that can be preceded by teams. Competition lawyers prefer working with people outside their law firms. A competition lawyer cannot permanently be in the office and do his own, most of the time his work would be outside the office, like meeting various clients, attending conferences.

Competition solicitor

It’s the best job for those who are involved in the field of markets and business work. The lawyer needs to understand the industry of the client he is dealing with. As time changes, the market also gets chances to produce, sell new products and services. Competition helps in the development of fast-moving digital markets.

If you have the ability to deal with people, have an interest in markets, and have an analytical mind then you can go for competition law.

Types of law practised in competition law:

  • EU & UK competition law
  • Competition litigation

Tier 1 and tier 2 firms 

Many people choose their career in competition law and become competition lawyers because this is one of the matters of enforcement and many transactions come for practice in tier 1 and tier 2 competition law teams. These lawyers work on mergers, acquisitions, and amalgamations. These teams in the competition law make sure that they need permission from the CCI for these transactions or not. If they need the permission of CCI, then these teams go for a short form or else a long-form. These forms will consist of the details of the transactions caused, the parties who are involved in this, and what impact the transaction gave on the market value. CCI by giving approval clears that the transaction gave on the market value. CCI by giving approval clears that the transaction which is taking place is not creating any negative impact on the market system or else no permission can be granted. Before the time they have not got the approval from the CCI, they need to be involved in all the hearings and paperwork with the CCI. Example: Vodafone-Idea merger. It required the approval of CCI for the transaction to take place.

Place of the practice of competition law

Competition law practices are done mostly in Delhi and Mumbai. Mumbai has many corporate offices and the competition workers team operates from there because it provides them with a greater opportunity to meet with more clients directly and not virtually. Though the competition lawyers of Mumbai travel to Delhi for the competition matters most of the time because they also need to attend the hearings in the supreme court and for all the filing requirements to be fulfilled. Hence, Delhi is preferred more because of these reasons. Similarly, Bangalore can also be a workplace for competition lawyers but they will also have to travel to Delhi regularly for the hearing and other purposes. Sometimes, some writ petitions made against the CCI’s order can go to the high court of the state, and competition law can be practised in that state. 

Reputed law firms 

In the UK:

  • Ashurst
  • DLA Piper
  • Simmons and Simmons
  • Allen & Overy LLP
  • Bristows LLP

In India:

  • AZB partners 
  • Trilegal & shardul amarchand
  • Khaitan & Co.

What do lawyers do 

Competition lawyers are responsible for many things in their careers.

  • Competition lawyers make all the investigations with regard to the clients conducting business.
  • Competition lawyers provide advice on the different agreements which are made to make sure competition challenges.
  • Find out the clearance for the mergers and acquisitions.
  • Claims can be defended into the competition appeal tribunals by the competition lawyers.

EU and UK competition law

The Fair Trading Act, 1973 extended the UK competition law for dealing with mergers, monopolies, trade agreements that are restricted. This act makes the trading fair and no discrimination can arise through this.

As per the European Union law, the companies of British deals with much unfair practice business which attempt to merge so that disruption of market law in the EU is applied. Unfair competition is a misleading business and it amounts to economic harm or damage to consumers. Since this goes beyond the competition law, hence it consists of the trademark infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets in it.

As of the analysis made by Ernst & Young India, around 80% or more than that people in India are unaware of the competition law and its practices.

Competition in Singapore 

Singapore also has single legislation which the competition act like India has. It prohibits anti-competitive practices in Singapore. It is basically as per the UK competition law and also includes minor factors from our Indian competition law. An outcome-based approach is adopted by the COA for concentrating mainly on taking decisions, abuse of dominant market positions, practices, and also the anti-competitive agreements in the market. The CCCS (Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore) created under the COA (Certificate of Analysis) have responsibilities for them for seeing the administration law. The CCS has the powers and duties for investigations if found any ground of infringement. Appeals that are made with respect to rulings made by the CCS are heard by the Board known as the Competition Appeal Board.

Competition Commission of India (CCI)

CCI is the authority that regulates the competition law in India and it also has continuous vacancies for new entries who have experience in different fields. Jobs under the CCI consist of litigation parts and as well as research work, the salary and working hours are also perfect. Working under  CCI creates a stronger and better understanding regarding the competition laws like antitrust and anti-competitive. 

Recently in 2017, the Competition Appellate Tribunals (COMPAT) got dissolved, and now all the appeals dealing with competition law direct to the NCLAT (National Company Law Appellate Tribunal). This NCLAT also takes new law in the vacancies. If anybody works in any of these two governments then he can have better knowledge with respect to the competition law. But in India, there is still no LLM specialized for competition lawyers, hence they can gain the degree outside India, in reputed abroad institutions. And due to this reason many students, lawyers go for online platform education with respect to competition law. This online competition law study has created a very important role for the lawyers who want to gain more knowledge with competition law.

Case laws 

  • COMPAT in M/s. Excel Crop Care Limited v. Competition Commission of India & Ors.

In this case, tablets are the only product of the sandhya organic chemicals and they earn money on that basis only. But the Food Corporation of India (FCI) claimed that they are involved in an anti-competitive agreement for the period of 2 years from 2007 to 2009. As per the complaint made by the FCI, the CCI started doing investigations and from that, he concluded that there was an anti-competitive agreement and CCI imposed a 9% penalty for the turnovers. After this, an appeal was made to the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMBAT). The COMPAT agreed in every aspect with the CCI except the penalty that is given. He said that the penalty of 9% should not have been imposed on the average turnover and hence, COMPAT reduced the punishment of the original sum ordered by the CCI on the amount of a small group of production capacity. The court held that it was necessary for stating the reasons as to why a certain percentage of punishment were imposed and what would be relevant turnover for any imposition.

  • Brahm Datt v. Union of India

In this case, a petition was filed in the supreme court which challenged the constitutional validity of the appointment of a retired bureaucrat as head of the commission. The Supreme Court gave an order on the matter by rejecting the grant of the relief asked for by the petitioner in the view of the government offering to amend the competition act.

  • Google Inc. v. CCI

In this case, a complaint made before CCI, stating Google Inc. has abused its position in the internet platform for advertising and promoting services like google news, google maps, etc. The main problem was whether administrational law like CCI had powers for reviewing its order. The Delhi High Court held the Competition Commission of India to review the order if it found that proper hearing did not take place.

  • Shri Ashok Kumar Sharma v. Agni Devices Pvt. Ltd

In this case, the respondent claims it to be a leading and known manufacturer, developer, importer of fire alarm systems and it has used threatening language to the appellant with respect to the use of trademarks. This is a violation of the act. The court here held that mere restriction of the use of the trademark does not amount to a violation of Section 3 or 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.

Conclusion

Competition law was borrowed in India from other jurisdictions like the EU, USA and hence this law is still new for us, and we are constantly trying to improve competition law in India, though it is tough to understand and it requires experience for the growth and hence new startups in this field by any person without experience will be very difficult.

References 


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