Competition Law Dissertation Topic Examples

1. A comparison of regulations of horizontal agreements in the EU, Japan and China.

This study will conduct an analysis of competition laws of the EU, Japan and China, with particular focus horizontal agreements. Attention will be given to research and development agreements and each jurisdiction's interpretation of the term 'undertakings' will be examined in detail. Restrictions on agreements are an equally revealing topic and attention will be given to elements such as exemptions and regulations in joint research and development agreements. The regulations of each jurisdiction will be stated in order for a comparison to be undertaken. What are the approaches adopted by each jurisdiction? Which appears to be the most effective at regulating horizontal agreements and what lessons can be learned from each approach? These issues will be explored in depth in this study, and a critical analysis of each jurisdiction will provide a detailed overview of how horizontal agreements can be regulated effectively.

Suggested Reading

  • Negishi, A et al 2009. A Commentary on the Antimonopoly Law of Japan, Masako Wakui: Yuhikaku.
  • Jones, A & Sufrin, B 2009. EU Competition Law: Text, Cases & Materials, 4th edn, New York: Oxford University Press.

2. Is predatory pricing ever a rational strategy and, if so, what should the test for predation be? Has the 2009 Guidance tackled these issues convincingly?

This study will attempt to tackle the array of issues surrounding predatory pricing. Predatory pricing is an elusive concept, which requires analysis in terms of whether it can be said to exist, as well as the factors that determine its existence. The landmark Standard Oil case will be closely analysed, most prominently due to its extensive discussion of predatory pricing, as well as its initial setting of the criteria applied to predatory pricing. Examination of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union will lead to a comparison of predatory pricing with the other abusive acts contained in the Article in an attempt to outline its features. Varied opinions relating to predatory pricing will be explored to convey how attitudes have changed over time. Is predatory pricing a rational strategy? Can a single test be devised for predatory pricing? What do previous case law examples offer in terms of how the issue is to be approached today? These issues will be explored along with an analysis of the 2009 Guidance on predatory pricing.

Suggested Reading

  • Motta, M 2004. Competition Policy: Theory and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bishop, S & Walker, M 2010. The Economics of EC Competition Law: Concepts, Application and Measurement, London: Sweet and Maxwell.
  • McGee, JS 1958. 'Predatory Price Cutting: The standard Oil Case', Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 1, no. 37.
  • Whish, R 2006. Competition Law, New York: Oxford University Press.

3. To what extent do the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty resolve the problems associated with the application of EU competition law to the financing and functioning of services of general economic interest?

Following the contemptible rejection of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, the Treaty of Lisbon was eventually proposed and signed. In an attempt to respond to previous rejections of the TECE, the Treaty of Lisbon pursued the formation of an accountable framework which would underlie the European Union. This was seen as vital if any improvements were to be made to competition law and policies; improvements which were long overdue. Yet, what have been its main changes to the law relating to services of a general economic interest in connection to competition law? Have legal problems been recognised and how does the Treaty of Lisbon seek to ease such problems? This study will examine the law pertaining to services of a general economic nature in conjunction with Article 86 and the general situation of such services as connected to the derogations provided for in Article 86(2). Case law decisions will be assessed to observe these provision in practice to lead to the conclusion that although many changes were recognised as necessary, most problems were left unsolved.

Suggested Reading

  • Craig, P 2008. 'The Treaty of Lisbon: Process, Architecture and Substance', European Law Review, vol. 2, no. 33.
  • Dabbah, M 2009. Competition Law in the EC and UK, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gerber, D 2001. Law and Competition in Twentieth Century Europe: Protecting Prometheus, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Krajewski, M et al 2009. The Changing Legal Framework for Services of General Interest in Europe Between Competition and Solidarity, The Hague: Asser.

4. With reference to case law and academic commentary, critically analyse the extent to which EC competition regulations are effective in protecting competition.

The EC's business and economic sectors are dynamic and constantly expanding to include new and novel business practices. The perpetually-increasing membership of the EU has had a major impact upon the expansion of competitive practices within and between Member States. Such expansion has fuelled the need to develop and adapt trade practice regulations in the effort to protect and ensure an effective competitive market. The core goal of EU Competition Law is therefore to facilitate and equalise competition between Member States. This study will examine the need to effectively regulate competitive behaviour within the EU and how such regulations approach competition practices. How have anti-competitive practices been controlled thus far? Is the regulatory framework successful or rife with problems? These issues will be explored in this study, which will ultimately examine the extent to which regulations devised to protect competition succeed in doing so.

Suggested Reading

  • Bannerman, E 2002. The Future of EU Competition Policy, Centre for European Reform: Brussels.
  • Cini, M & McGowan, L 1998. Competition Policy in the European Union, Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire.
  • Drexl, J, Kerber, W & Posdzun, R 2011. Competition Policy and the Economic Approach: Foundations and Limitations, Edward Elgar: Chelenham.
  • Motta, M 2004. Competition Policy: Theory and Practice, Cambridge University Press: New York, 2004.

5. Changes in EU Competition Law over the past 10 years.

This study will examine, in light of the expanding borders of the EU, how competition law has responded to the need to adapt to EU developments. How have anti-competitive activities been approached and dealt with and what are the major changes in regulations over the past decade? Have regulations improved competition law or is major reform necessary? When did changes begin and what elements did they focus upon? These issues will be explored in a bid to examine how the functions of the EU in a competition law context have altered.

Suggested Reading

  • Craig, P & de Burca, G 2008. EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Jones, A & Surfrin, B 2008. EC Competition Law: Text, Cases and Materials, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Pirrung, M 2004. 'European Union Enlargement towards Cartel Paradise? An Economic Analysis of The Reform of European Competition Law', Erasmus Law and Economics Review, vol. 1, no. 77.
  • Windhoff-Heritier, A, Knill, C & Mingers, S 1996. Ringing the Changes in Europe: Regulatory Competition and Redefinition of the State, Berlin: Walter de Guyter and Co.

6. The Cost of Monitoring Competition – Is it Worth it?

The active and aggressive process of monitoring competition adopts a number of mechanisms designed to protect the competitive market. For example, contracts or agreements which restrict free trade between businesses are prohibited; firms are prevented from dominating the market through the use of abusive behaviour. Practices which are devised to ensure a dominant market position include predatory pricing, tying, price grouping and refusing to deal; these activities are closely monitored and prohibited by competition regulations. Yet in order to apply competition regulations effectively, it is necessary for authorities to constantly check, prevent and punish anti-competitive activities. Yet is such effort and expenditure involved in monitoring anti-competitive activities actually worth it? This study will consider the proposals of critics who state that competition laws can actually have negative effects because they protect incompetent competitors and unnecessarily lower competition. Are such criticisms accurate? Has the cost of legal regulation proven more costly than benefits afforded to consumers?

Suggested Reading

  • Craig, P & de Burca, G 2008. EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Jones, A & Surfrin, B 2008. EC Competition Law: Text, Cases and Materials, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Massimo, M 2004. Competition Policy: Theory and Practice, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sauter, W 1997. Competition Law and Industrial Policy in the EU, New York: Oxford University Press.

7. Strategic alliances as method of development, regardless of their form, are inherently beneficial to the parties involved. Critically evaluate this statement.

A strategic alliance is defined as a cooperative strategy by which firms combine their resources and abilities in order to achieve a competitive advantage. Strategic alliances are becoming all the more popular as the business market expands beyond control. Alliances have increased in complexity and size, so that major firms from across the globe have joined forces to create even larger corporations. The benefits conferred by such alliances are potentially endless. Major advances are made in research, huge profits are earned, and resources receive major support. Yet do the risks outweigh the benefits? This stufy will consider whether the potential damage that can result from strategic alliances outweigh the rewards they offer.

Suggested Reading

  • Bamford, J, Gomes-Casseres, B & Robinson, M 2004. Envisioning Collaboration: Mastering Alliance Strategies, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Lorange, P & Roos, J 1993. Strategic Alliances: Formation, Implementation, and Evolution, Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Business.
  • Barney, JB 1991. 'Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage', Journal of Management, vol. 17, no. 1.
  • Grant, RM 2010. Contemporary Strategy Analysis and Cases: Text and Cases, 7th edn, Essex: Wiley.

8. The Competition Act 1998 in the EU: a Comparative Analysis.

The Competition Act 1998 contains a lot of features which serve to bring UK competition law in line with the EC model. In fact, a number of EU Member States have adopted this model. This study will provide an overview of the 1998 Act, in terms of its content and structure, and compare it to other models in the EU realm. Which aspects have been adapted to suit particular needs of the UK or particular features of its system and market? Which aspects can be considered an improvement upon the general EU model? These aspects will be explored in order to arrive at an overall conclusion as to the stance of the Competition Act 1998 in an EU context.

Suggested Reading

  • Jones, A & Surfrin, B 2008. EC Competition Law: Text, Cases and Materials, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Massimo, M 2004. Competition Policy: Theory and Practice, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sauter, W 1997. Competition Law and Industrial Policy in the EU, New York: Oxford University Press.

9. Arguably the most important step in the application of competition law to the conduct of companies is the definition of 'relevant market'. Discuss.

This study will examine how the term 'relevant market' is defined in the context of EU competition law, and in doing so will identify its role in the application of competition law to company conduct. How has the term been delineated in terms of its reach and limitations? How does it fit in with the overall competition law scheme of the EU? The term's boundaries will be examined in relation to definitions of 'product' and 'geographic market' to determine whether competition law's scope is appropriate or in need of reform.

Suggested Reading

  • Rodger, BJ & MacCulloch, A 2004. Competition Law and Policy in the EC and UK, London: Cavendish Publishing.
  • Furse, F 2004. Competition Law of the EC and UK, 4th edn, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Middleton, K, Rodger, BJ & McCulloch, A 2003. UK & EC Competition Law, New York: Oxford University Press.

10. Enforcing Competition Laws in the UK: A Critical Overview.

This study examines the importance and role of proceedings instigated by private individuals in the enforcement of competition laws in the UK. The numerous obstacles encountered since the enactment of the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002 will be critically evaluated, as well as developments that have taken place within the European Union. It will be demonstrated that the legal protection of competition, although it can be justified on an ethical and economic basis, should not be used to empower private individuals to monitor competition. Of course, it is important to encourage private enforcement of competition regulations, yet it is similarly necessary to restrict the extent to which such enforcement can proceed.

Suggested Reading

  • Rodger, BJ & MacCulloch, A 2004. Competition Law and Policy in the EC and UK, London: Cavendish Publishing.
  • Furse, F 2004. Competition Law of the EC and UK, 4th edn, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Middleton, K, Rodger, BJ & McCulloch, A 2003. UK & EC Competition Law, New York: Oxford University Press.