Enforcing Competition Rules in South Africa

Enforcing Competition Rules in South Africa

Thieves at the Dinner Table

David Lewis

Enforcing Competition Rules in South Africa is a clear and insightful account of the establishment and first decade of one of the most successful competition law institutions to have mushroomed over the past 15 years. David Lewis believes that, while there is much to learn from international scholarship and jurisprudence and from participation in the various multinational initiatives in this field, competition law and its institutions have to be understood within their national economic and social contexts.

Chapter 4: Abuse of dominance

David Lewis

Subjects: law - academic, competition and antitrust law, law and economics


How to characterise practices variously referred to as ‘abuse of dominance’ or ‘monopolisation’, or, in the anodyne and purposely neutral language of international debate, simply as ‘unilateral conduct’? ‘Complex’ and ‘controversial’ are the first descriptors that come to mind, with ‘intellectually challenging’ and – a consequence of the obstructive legal stratagems inevitably employed by a well-resourced, determined respondent – ‘downright tedious’ as close seconds. All that is certain is that, in all but the most straightforward transgressions, there will be as many views as there are economists and lawyers contesting and commenting upon the case at hand, and that those views will change, sometimes diametrically, over time and between cases. But equally certain is that, as with all law enforcement, those who enter the world of competition enforcement are, by and large, driven by a notion of justice that has a likely set of miscreants firmly in sight. In competition law enforcement, the ‘bad guy’ is inevitably represented by a large powerful firm, acting either on its own or in combination with other large firms to compromise the interests of those – consumers, or actual or potential new entrants – less powerful than themselves. Certainly, the lived experience of antitrust enforcement will refine that approach; it will prove many of those a priori suspicions unwarranted, and will, indeed, engender respect for those large firms that reproduce their success by renewed investment, by innovation, by penetrating new markets. And experience will also expose that much abusive conduct is rooted in public action, past and present

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