Summer’s Top Competition Stories 2020

A Change of Pace

The extent of the fallout from the health crisis on our economies and societies is still unknown. But so far its impact has been dramatic and the recovery unequal. While the new normal emerges, competition law will continue to apply.

Debates about the role of competition law were ongoing before the crisis hit – should it protect consumers as more than mere purchasers of goods and services, and consider broader social (non-price) factors such as the innovation process or environmental protections?

But the crisis has shone blinding spotlights on existing areas of concern (especially our even greater reliance on technology during lockdown) and accelerated attempts by policy makers to find solutions. Competition law is a vital part of the recovery – protecting consumers from abusive practices whilst ensuring that enforcement doesn’t prevent necessary collaboration.

Thankfully, there is no sign of the progress to tackle climate change – the crisis beyond the crisis – getting left behind as had initially been feared. Especially as green investments outperform markets and rescue packages come with “green strings” attached, designed to both stimulate wounded economies and speed up decarbonisation.

The protectionist march towards de-globalisation – already well underway – has become a veritable sprint over the last few months, with governments rapidly strengthening their foreign investment control powers and intervening more often to decide the fate of crisis-hit companies, in many cases with continuing involvement.

But rapid change comes at what cost? Is there a risk of more haste, less speed? What about the unintended consequences of such rapid and potentially long-term interventions to deal with what may be short-term challenges, especially when they are increasingly politically motivated? Read our Summer’s Top Competition Stories to find out more.

What do the important trends we are seeing mean for doing business over the coming months and beyond?

What should you know about the huge acceleration of state interventionism, especially for M&A? What role should business cooperation play in the recovery, and where does competition law come in? And what are the implications of calls to insert social goods like employment into competition policy and enforcement?

In this short video, Linklaters colleagues Nicole Kar, Annamaria Mangiaracina, Thomas A. McGrath, Daniela Seeliger and Fay Zhou have the answers.

tangled string

The sprint towards ever greater state interventionism

State interventionism is on the rise globally. What does this mean for companies, especially in the context of the recovery? We expect more foreign investment control and protectionism especially in the tech and healthcare sectors, companies delivering on governments’ sustainability agendas and authorities imposing more invasive commitments. Here’s why.

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falling dominoes

Playing politics with distressed M&A

The checks and balances of the merger control process are never more important than in times of crisis. But we are already seeing signs that crisis-driven M&A reviews will face intense political pressure. Meanwhile authorities have been bracing themselves for a surge in failing firm defence claims. Traditionally met with scepticism, will they gain traction through the Covid-19 lens?

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life buoy in sea coming soon overlay

Competitor cooperation in times of crisis – A chance to reshape the rules?

Throughout the health crisis, businesses have worked together to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials – often supported by guidance from competition authorities. But as businesses seek to recover from the crisis and adapt to the altered outlook, what role should cooperation play? And what does that mean for the application of the competition rules?

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global communications network

Capitalising on a crisis – Competition, market power and exploitation

With our increased reliance on technology and concerns around access to essential products, competition policy is tasked with urgently answering fundamental questions about consumer welfare and fairness. In a way that we haven’t seen before, consumer interests are having an immediate impact on political agendas – with major consequences for competition policy and enforcement.

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Summer’s Top Competition Stories 2020: A Change of Pace

If you would like to read all four stories together in one place, please download the full report >

Competition Summer Stories PDF front page

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