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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2009

Introduction

Summary

In December 2005, the European Commission published a Green Paper on Damages Actions for Breach of the EC Competition Rules. This document has provoked a discussion on the role of private actions which goes far beyond competition law. Many take the view that Europe should avoid the traps into which US law has stepped by admitting excessive litigation due to a system of class actions, punitive damages, pre-trial discovery and contingency fees. European law should not pave the way for judicial proceedings which ultimately do not serve the interests of the injured parties but rather those of their lawyers, consultants or other agents. According to the methodology of the Common Core of European Private Law project, this inquiry gives a description of the state of remedies in competition law in fifteen European countries and analyses the underlying determinants. On this basis, proposals are developed showing how the enforcement of competition law could be improved. The flaws can be fixed without running the risk of abusive litigation. To this end, it has been instructive to include two fields of law which are normally treated separately, i.e. unfair competition law and antitrust law. Although the two branches share common goals, their enforcement has taken completely different paths. Whereas in many reporting countries unfair competition law is endowed with effective private law (and in some countries also with public law) remedies, the implementation of antitrust law is in practice almost completely entrusted to administrative enforcement.