New Leadership for US Antitrust: Key Issues and Challenges

Half-day conference with Bill KOVACIC (George Washington Law School), Scott HEMPHILL (Columbia University), Ronan HARTY (Davis Polk), Christine WILSON (Kirkland & Ellis), John D. HARKRIDER (Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider), Randolph TRITELL (DoJ), Fiona A. SCHAEFFER (Jones Day), Stephen HARRIS Jr. (Baker & McKenzie), James KEYTE (Skadden Arps).

This conference was launched at the occasion of the release of the book "William E. Kovacic - An Antitrust Tribute Vol. 1".

Keynote Speech

William E. Kovacic

New Leadership: What to Expect?

Bill Kovacic pointed towards countries like the United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico and the Netherlands who are all currently engaging in discussions to, or are undertaking, changes to the institu-tional design of their antitrust institu- tions. In the US, Bill Kovacic advocated for a deeper integration of regulatory institutions, especially at the federal level. Bill Kovacic pointed out that §5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act was not designed, as many might think, to create tension by assigning two agencies, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the same domain. Rather, the intention was to create a complementary system, like a joint venture, where each participant, the DOJ and the FTC, offered a complementary skill. The DOJ provided a prosecutorial role and the FTC an administrative role. In addition, the FTC offered a special competition court. Instead of leaving the decision making entirely to judges, this special court could be used to test and establish jurisprudence, in turn, informing other decision makers. However, in order to achieve this goal of better policy making, the two institutions have to see themselves working together for a common agenda; they have to view themselves as joint venture participants. Bill Kovacic acknowledged that this requires these institutions to rethink their relationship. He offered some practical steps to achieving this unity: a yearly formulation of common priorities; presenting these themes publically, and devising a roadmap of how the two institutions will work together to implement these priorities. The status quo, Bill Kovacic states, is enough for the institutions to eek by, but a coherent message is integral to infuence; and if the US is to maintain its infuence, the two agencies must present a coherent and integrated message.

Photos © Vincent Soyez

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  • Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider (New York)
  • Milbank (New York)
  • Winston & Strawn (Washington)
  • Fordham Competition Law Institute - FCLI (New York)
  • George Washington University - School of Law (Washington)
  • New York University
  • Davis Polk (New York)
  • US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)