International Antitrust Litigation


Conflict of Laws and Coordination

A globalised economy, the volume of world trade and the operations of multinational companies are only some of the aspects hinting at the transnational dimension of modern business transactions.  Along with the internationalization of commerce, anti-competitive business practices increasingly tend to produce cross-border effects. Litigation involving competition law issues is becoming more and more international. Actions against anti-competitive practices, whether public or private, often involve companies located in different countries, business practices of global reach, enforcement in and judicial authorities from more than one State and evidentiary material spread across multiple jurisdictions.

The international element in antitrust litigations raises highly problematic issues, including:

  • the determination of the law applicable to the assessment of the legality of an anti-competitive business practice affecting various geographies;
  • the interaction between the law applicable to an anti-competitive practice and the law applicable to the validity of the contract underlying it;
  • the determination of the competent authority or court to decide on disputes involving cross-border anti-competitive practices;
  • the initiation of collective actions federating the interests of consumers established in different jurisdictions;
  • the effects of the decision of a competition authority or a national court before the competent authority or courts of another country, the cooperation among administrative or judicial authorities confronted to the same or similar anti-competitive practice(s) and the taking of evidence abroad;  
  • the protection of the confidentiality of evidentiary materials and business secrets in cross-border antitrust disputes, etc.

These are but a few examples of the numerous problems to overcome in international antitrust litigations.
The central challenge common to all these issues can be summarized in one word: “coordination”.
In the European Union, coordination is partially addressed by EU instruments, such as Regulation 1/2003 on the implementation of the rules on competition and the regulations adopted in the field of civil justice (especially, Brussels I, Rome I and Rome II). However, these instruments raise complicated questions of interpretation and leave many issues unresolved.

The research project on “International Antitrust Litigation” aims to address these issues and offer coherent solutions.
More specifically, the objective of the project is twofold.  On the one hand, the practical ambition is to formulate specific proposals for the interpretation of existing rules and for future legislative action.  On the other hand, the theoretical ambition is to overcome the public-private divide in competition law enforcement and inquire as to whether and to what degree similar structures and principles can solve the coordination issues arising in both context.


Interim Seminar – 10-12 December 2009 – La Hulpe

Closing Conference – 26 March 2010 – Brussels

An edited volume containing the outcome of the research project was published by Hart Publishing in 2010.


The project was funded by:
• the Civil Justice program of the European Commission;
• the Chair of European Law of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL);
• the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.

Publié le 17 avril 2018