- Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by John Duns, Arlen Duke and Brendan Sweeney
Chapter 12: Criminalizing cartels: A global trend?
For most countries, competition law is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 1950, only ten jurisdictions had competition laws. Today more than 120 jurisdictions do and more than eighty of these systems have commenced since 1980. Officials from these jurisdictions now interact regularly through networked organizations, such as the International Competition Network (ICN) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). There is no binding multilateral treaty mandating that countries have a competition law system that prescribes certain behavior, or create specialized institutions to enforce these prescriptions, although the North American Free Trade Agreement and a number of other free trade agreements signed by the United States (US) have short provisions that require countries to adopt and enforce laws against anti-competitive business conduct. Yet such prescriptions and institutions now exist in all major economies, creating what can be viewed as a transnational legal order, a collection of formalized legal norms and associated organizations and actors that authoritatively order the understanding and practice of law across national jurisdictions. Combating international cartels is one of the central goals of this transnational legal order, and there appears to be greater normative convergence on this antitrust issue than any other among governments.
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