Competition Law and the Role of Competition Lawyers

Competition law is a branch of law that promotes or seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies. This field of law is designed to promote free and fair competition. ‘Competition’ in simple terms means the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others. ‘Competition’ is typically referred to a situation in the market in which firms or sellers independently strive for the buyers’ patronage in order to achieve a particular business objective. The companies and firms must refrain themselves from anti-competitive business practices. The advantages of a perfect are three fold: allocative efficiency, which ensures the effective allocation of resources, productive efficiency, which ensures that costs of production are kept at a minimum and dynamic efficiency, which promotes innovative practices.

Competition Law in India

The history of competition law in India dates back to the 1960s when the first competition law, namely the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (MRTP) was enacted in 1969. But after the economic reforms in 1991, this legislation was found to be obsolete in view of international economic developments and in many other aspects and as a result, a new law in the form of the Competition Act, 2002 was enacted in 2003. The Competition Commission of India is the quasi judicial body established for enforcing provisions of this Act throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.

The various objectives of the Competition Act are:

1. To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition;

2. To promote and sustain competition in markets;

3. To protect the interests of consumers; and

4. To ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in markets, in India.

Role of Competition lawyers

The competition lawyers generally act on behalf of large international companies, as these organizations have the greatest ability to affect competition in the market. They also advise new entrants in the market, for example, where their access to the market may be blocked by competitors. The role of these lawyers is to respond to investigations by competition authorities, to handle court proceedings and to advice on day-to-day trading and compliance issues. They also defend companies accused of price fixing in secret cartels. The role of the competition lawyer is to use advocacy and economic evidence to show that the merger will not reduce competition. The other job duties include:

1. Merger control advice and filings;

2. Abuse of dominance investigations;

3. Cartel enquires and related litigation;

4. Analysis of commercial agreements and licensing and distribution arrangements;

5. Analysis of sector specific policies and market studies to identify competition concerns;

6. Intersection between competition law issues and intellectual property rights;

7. Competition compliance and training;

8. Counseling and providing strategies for anti-trust risk management.

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