On Thursday 12 March, the 3rd Competition Law Update (CLU) took place in the guild house “Zur Saffran” in Zurich. The CLU evening was dedicated to developments in U.S. Antitrust Law.
The topic attracted a large number of legal practitioners. In fact, there was not a seat left in the large guild hall assembly room. An appreciative audience, first-rate speakers, and an atmospheric location in the heart of Zurich, Switzerland’s economic capital, ensured that the event was a great success. Patrick Krauskopf welcomed participants and speakers before turning over the floor to Richard Norman, Partner at AGON Partners, who moderated the event. In his opening remarks, Martin Graf, Government Councilor and head of the department of Justice and Home Affairs of the Canton of Zurich, made the point that competitiveness was not just a matter of competition law but also required a high level of know-how within a country’s educational and political establishment. He highlighted the importance of sustainability in national economic activities and the need for highly qualified employees.
Antitrust Litigation and class actions: the enforcers and the lawyers’ view
The next two speakers represented the renowned law firm and CLU sponsor, Gibson Dunn. Scott Hammond, the former Head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal antitrust enforcement program spoke about the extensive experience the DOJ has in this field. His ability to switch between his former roles as a government enforcer and his current role as an expert in white collar defense enabled his audience to better understand how the DOJ operates. Peter Sullivan explained the nature, purpose, and characteristics of class actions. He stressed some aspects which have led to an abuse of class action litigation. These include the combination of class actions and antitrust treble damages which create a powerful weapon for plaintiffs to force settlements. According to Mr Sullivan, the biggest beneficiaries are the plaintiffs’ lawyers, although the requirements for class action suits are currently under review.
Recent Developments in U.S. Antitrust Civil Litigation
Jay L. Himes focused on recent developments in U.S. antitrust civil litigation. As a former head of the Antitrust Bureau in the New York Attorney General’s office, he has extensive and practical civil litigation experience. Mr Himes introduced some crucial aspects of civil litigation by explaining developments in a few cases. One of them involved the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA), its processes and its significance in practice, which was a matter of great interest given that there were many legal professionals in the audience working for international companies doing business in the U.S.
This up to date, relevant session exemplifies the nature of the CLU series as an intensive, practice-oriented exchange between experts and practitioners. Thanks to the sponsors AGON Partners, the ACCL and Gibson Dunn as well as its partners, the New York State Bar Association and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development the event was exceptionally well received. The 4th CLU will be held on 12 November 2015 on the topic of “Effective Compliance”.
Contact: Patrick Krauskopf, Center for Competition and Commercial Law