- Irish Competition Law
Irish Competition Law is the Irish body of legal rules designed to ensure fairness and freedom in the
marketplace. The key provisions of Irish competition law (a) usually outlaw anti-competitive arrangements between undertakings and associations of undertakings; (b) always outlaw the abuse of dominance by undertakings; (c) control certain mergers and acquisitions. The Competition Act, 2002, replaced the The Competition Act, 1991. It is comparable to, but different in certain key respects, from European Union competition law. There are some similarities to the anti-trust lawof the United States of Americabut the differences (particularly in relation to mergercontrol and the way in which breaches are punished) are substantial.
Irish competition law is derived from two primary sources:
statues(Acts) enacted by the Irish Parliament(the Oireachtas) and common law (precedent of judicial decisions). It is suerpvised by the Competition Authority.
Relationship with EC Competition Law
Given the EU goals of an integrated, market economy
EC Competition lawhas a heavy influence in national economic law.EC competition law has superiority Irish competition law, Irish law must not contradict or inhibit the operation of EC law, but it may outlaw things which are legal under EC law, or punish breaches more severely. It also exercises a persuasive force over the jurisprudence of Irish competition law. Due to the requirement of compliance with EC law and the similar understanding and goals, Irish Courts will examine cases and precedents in the European Courts to see how it has been interpreted or to ensure that they are consistent. EC competition law has jurisdiction over cases which affect inter-state trade in the Union.
Regulation 1/2003 of the European Commission "decentralised" the enforcement of competition law with a number of reforms designed to increase the enforcment of EC rules in national courts [http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l26092.htm SCADPlus: Application of Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty ] ] .
The law is enforced by the [http://www.tca.ie Irish Competition Authority] , who review mergers, and investigate cartels and abuse of dominance by undertakings. They can fine offenders, when can be appealed to the High Court. Private enforcement is also possible. An aggrieved party may sue the offender for damages under the Competition Act. However this facility has not been exercised much, possibly due to the difficulty of gathering evidence to prove such a breach. Regulation 1/2003 of the European Commission sought to increase private and public enforcement of EC rules in national courts to allow the commission to concentrate on bigger cases.
The Competition Authority operates a Cartel Immunity Programme which allows for immunity or leinency in sentencing for offenders which supply information to them that allows the prosecution of other breaches of the law [ [http://www.tca.ie/EnforcingCompetitionLaw/CartelImmunityProgramme/CartelImmunityProgramme.aspx The Competition Authority - Enforcing Competition Law - Cartel Immunity Programme ] ] . The rule mirrors the European Commission's Leniency policy.
Irish competition law also regulates certain mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. Part III of the Competition Act 2002 provides that the Competition Authority must approve transactions which fall within the scope of Part III before they may be lawfully implemented.
While it is a small jurisdiction, Ireland has achieved considerable success in enforcing competition law by virtue of successful criminal prosecutions against various individuals and companies.
List of Acts of the OireachtasThe Irish Competition Authority's website: www.tca.ie [http://www.tca.ie]
* Vincent J G Power, Competition Law and Practice (Tottel)
* Alan J W McCarthy and Vincent J G Power, Competition Act 2002 (Tottel)
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