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When law and politics combine it can be a combustible mix. Behind closed doors in Brussels, a new law is being mooted that would make it easier to pursue US-style class actions against companies convicted of price-fixing.
Or at least, it was. At the end of last week European Commission (EC) president Jose Manuel Barroso stepped in and pulled the plug on it (see story).
The news has spread faster than you could say “let’s go and make ourselves a cartel” through the competition law community, where no one is really sure why the draft directive was suddenly withdrawn at this late stage.
Conspiracy theorists will no doubt blame powerful “interests”. Certainly some of the world’s largest companies, who could face multi-million dollar law suits, will not want it to go through.
Just as likely is the objection of a few stubborn member states, arguing that the EC has no business interfering in the internal operations of their courts.
There are probably even those who will point to a secret plot by alien lizard men bent on taking over the world.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide which of these explanations is most plausible.
One thing is clear though. When this law resurfaces (which, experts assure The Lawyer, it will) competition litigation is going to be a very exciting place to be.
Also on TheLawyer.com: Clarke Wilmott is the latest firm to embrace outsourcing; Mayer Brown acts on sale of Portsmouth FC - again; and the closing date of 9 October is looming for entries to The Lawyer HR Awards. Enter your team here.