Glossary of competition terms

This Glossary was prepared by DG COMP and the OECD for non-competition specialists. Each term is enriched with references of national case laws from the e-Competitions Bulletin. (© European Union - © OECD)

Rule of Reason

A legal approach by competition authorities or the courts where an attempt is made to evaluate the pro-competitive features of a restrictive business practice against its anticompetitive effects in order to decide whether or not the practice should be prohibited. Some market restrictions which prima facie give rise to competition issues may on further examination be found to have valid efficiency- enhancing benefits. For example, a manufacturer may restrict supply of a product in different geographic markets only to existing retailers so that they earn higher profits and have an incentive to advertise the product and provide better service to customers. This may have the effect of expanding the demand for the manufacturer’s product more than the increase in quantity demanded at a lower price.

The opposite of the rule of reason approach is to declare certain business practices per se illegal, that is, always illegal. Price fixing agreements and resale price maintenance in many jurisdictions are per se illegal.