New Developments and Empirical Evidence
New Horizons in Competition Law and Economics series
Edited by Michael Faure and Xinzhu Zhang
Chapter 12: Competition advocacy and case law in Europe: the case of the liberal professions
There is a natural tension between competition law and regulation of professional services. This results from the fact that professional regulation– even when it improves the quality of professional services or access to those services by consumers – either limits entry into the profession or restricts competition between profession members. Whether it concerns licensing, educational requirements, advertising restrictions, price regulation, or business type restrictions: competition will somehow be affected. The negative effects on competition have to be weighed against the increase in service quality or access to services generated by regulation. In Europe many professions (think of lawyers, auditors, pharmacists, architects, doctors, etc ) are subject both to public regulation and self-regulation by professional bodies. About a decade ago the European Commission (Directorate General for Competition) started an extensive investigation into the effects of the various forms of regulation found in the professions. Several national competition authorities (NCAs) have also shown a great interest in the re-regulation of professional services over the last two decades, for example the OFT in the United Kingdom, the Competition Authority in Ireland, and the NM a in the Netherlands. In the light of the Anti-Monopoly Law in China and the current state of professional regulation in Chinese professions, it is likely that this topic will also receive attention in China in years to come.
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