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Cartels are a surprisingly persistent feature of economic life. The temptation to rig the game in one’s favour is constant, particularly when demand conditions are weak and the product in question is an undifferentiated commodity. Corporate compliance programmes are useful but inherently limited, as managers may come to see their personal interests as divergent from those of the corporation. Detection of cartel arrangements can present a substantial challenge for both internal legal departments and law enforcement. Some notable cartels managed to remain intact for as long as a decade before they were uncovered. Some may never see the light of day. However, for those cartels that are detected, this compendium offers a resource for practitioners around the world.
The broad message of the book is that this risk is growing steadily. In part due to US leadership, stubborn cultural attitudes regarding cartel activity are gradually shifting. Many jurisdictions have moved to give their competition authorities additional investigative tools, including wiretap authority and broad subpoena powers. There is also a burgeoning movement to criminalise cartel activity in jurisdictions where it has previously been regarded as wholly or principally a civil matter. The growing use of leniency programmes has worked to radically destabilise global cartels, creating powerful incentives to report cartel activity when discovered.
The authors of these chapters are from some of the most widely respected law firms in their jurisdictions. All have substantial experience with cartel investigations, and many have served in senior positions in government. They know both what the law says and how it is actually enforced, and we think you will find their guidance regarding the practices of local competition authorities invaluable.