Coauthored paper with @pacomarcos: “Human Rights” Protection for Corporate Antitrust Defendants: Are We Not Going Overboard?

There seems to be a clear trend of increased protection of ‘corporate human rights’ and, more specifically, due process rights (or procedural fairness) in the field of enforcement of competition law. To a large extent, that trend is based on the uncritical extension of human rights protection to corporate defendants by a process of simple assimilation of corporate and individual defendants.
This new coauthored paper briefly explores the rationale behind the creation of due process rights when the individual is the beneficiary of such protection. It then goes on to critically assess if the same need exists for the extension of those protections to corporate defendants, particularly in the field of competition law or antitrust enforcement. It concludes with some warnings concerning the diminishing effectiveness of competition law prohibitions and of human law protection that can result from an overstretched conception of due process protection in this area of EU economic law.

From a substantive perspective, this paper submits that the extension of human rights to corporations cannot be uncritical and should not be completely symmetrical to that for human beings; but that it rather needs to be necessarily adapted to their circumstances. To put it more bluntly, it is suggested that in the field of the enforcement of economic law, administrative law procedures should be sound and there should clearly be a strong system of judicial review in place, but corporations should not have access to broader constitutional or human rights protections and any perceived shortcomings in the design and application of those procedures should remain within the sphere of regulatory reform.
Sánchez Graells, Albert and Marcos, Francisco, “Human Rights” Protection for Corporate Antitrust Defendants: Are We Not Going Overboard? (February 2, 2014). University of Leicester School of Law Research Paper No. 14-04. Available at SSRN:

EU's accession to the ECHR and due process rights: Nothing new under the sun?

I have just posted a new paper on SSRN about the potential implications of the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), particularly in terms of the scope and intensity of judicial review of enforcement decisions in competition law cases.

In light of the ongoing discussion on the potential need for reform of the enforcement system of EU competition law to make it compliant with Article 6(1) ECHR, the aim of the paper is to contribute to the debate in a threefold manner by: i) sketching the peculiarities of the enforcement of competition law (in general, but with a focus on EU competition law), which basically derive from the complex and data intensive economic assessments required in most cases; ii) critically appraising the requirements of Article 6(1) ECHR in the field of EU competition law in view of those peculiarities; and, finally, iii) assessing the impact of those requirements in terms of the potentially necessary amendments to the EU competition law enforcement system upon the EU’s accession to the ECHR.

The basic contention of the paper is that, given the specific architecture of the EU competition law enforcement system under Regulation 1/2003 (and the domestic competition laws of Member States) — which have crystallized in a network of highly specialised and independent administrative agencies that, generally, offer procedural guarantees equivalent (or superior) to those of most tribunals in other areas of the law — and as long as an effective (soft or marginal) judicial review mechanism is available to the undertakings affected by sanctions due to EU competition law infringements, no significant changes are required in order to make the system comply with Article 6(1) ECHR. This position is further supported by the express normative assumption that undertakings (or companies) deserve a relatively more limited protection than individuals under the ECHR and, more specifically, under Article 6(1) ECHR — at least as regards non-core due process guarantees, such as the applicable standard of review (and as opposed to ‘core’ due process guarantees such as the presumption of innocence, the principle of equality of arms, the right to have full access to the evidence, or the right not to suffer undue delays).

The full paper is available here: