AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

The introduction of ‘Leniency Plus’ as a Tool for the European Commission in the Fight Against Cartels

by Axel Resvik

Institution: Uppsala University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Leniency Plus; Leniency; Penalty Plus; Social Sciences; Law; Samhällsvetenskap; Juridik; Juristprogrammet; Law Programme
Record ID: 1374621
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-242165


Through the current public enforcement powers, the Commission has the possibility to request information and perform inspections in order to collect such evidence that can prove an infringement of Article 101 TFEU. However, undertakings involved in cartels, that are willing to inform the Commission of the existence of such activity, should not be deterred from doing so by the high fines which they might face. Voluntary assistance from cartel participants is of great importance since cartels are secret and therefore by their very nature extremely difficult to detect and investigate without the cooperation of at least one of the participants. Immunity and reduction of fines for ‘whistle blowers’ has been considered justified with regard to the great reduction of cartels that follows. The EU has introduced the Leniency Notice, which aim is to fulfil these goals, and at the same time fulfil the overriding aims of competition law enforcement. The Leniency Notice has been considered necessary as a tool for the Commission to enforce competition law and has proven to be a great success. The aim of this thesis is to investigate whether it may be justified to modify and extend the Leniency Notice further by introducing Leniency Plus. Leniency Plus is a method with the primary objective to detect more cartels. It functions by rewarding cartel participants with additional lenient treatment for disclosing other cartels. Leniency Plus have to be able to fulfil the goals of effective public enforcement of competition law, and at the same time operate under the general principles of EU law, mainly the principles of proportionality, equal treatment, effectiveness and legal certainty. It will be argued that an introduction of Leniency Plus in the Leniency Notice should be welcomed, subject to certain further modifications for it to function in the EU, such as limitations in the number of undertakings eligible for immunity, increase the standard of evidence provided, or to complement it with a negative sanction to enforce disclosure.