Linklaters Insight: summer’s top competition stories 2020

Competition law

A change of pace

The extent of the fallout from the health crisis on our economies and societies is still unknown. But so far its impact has been dramatic and the recovery unequal. While the new normal emerges, competition law will continue to apply.

Debates about the role of competition law were ongoing before the crisis hit – should it protect consumers as more than mere purchasers of goods and services, and consider broader social (non-price) factors such as the innovation process or environmental protections?

But the crisis has shone blinding spotlights on existing areas of concern (especially our even greater reliance on technology during lockdown) and accelerated attempts by policy makers to find solutions. Competition law is a vital part of the recovery – protecting consumers from abusive practices whilst ensuring that enforcement doesn’t prevent necessary collaboration.

But rapid change comes at what cost? Is there a risk of more haste, less speed? What about the unintended consequences of such rapid and potentially long-term interventions to deal with what may be short-term challenges, especially when they are increasingly politically motivated? Read 'Summer’s Top Competition Stories' by our global partner, Linklaters, to find out more.

In this report

The sprint towards ever greater state interventionism

State interventionism is on the rise globally. What does this mean for companies, especially in the context of the recovery? We expect more foreign investment control and protectionism especially in the tech and healthcare sectors, companies delivering on governments’ sustainability agendas and authorities imposing more invasive commitments. See why.

Competitor cooperation in times of crisis – A chance to reshape the rules?

Throughout the health crisis, businesses have worked together to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials – often supported by guidance from competition authorities. But as businesses seek to recover from the crisis and adapt to the altered outlook, what role should cooperation play? And what does that mean for the application of the competition rules?

Playing politics with distressed M&A

The checks and balances of the merger control process are never more important than in times of crisis. But we are already seeing signs that crisis-driven M&A reviews will face intense political pressure. Meanwhile authorities have been bracing themselves for a surge in failing firm defence claims. Traditionally met with scepticism, will they gain traction through the Covid-19 lens?

Capitalising on a crisis – Competition, market power and exploitation

With our increased reliance on technology and concerns around access to essential products, competition policy is tasked with urgently answering fundamental questions about consumer welfare and fairness. In a way that we haven’t seen before, consumer interests are having an immediate impact on political agendas – with major consequences for competition policy and enforcement.

Read the full report: Summer’s top competition stories for 2020