THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE— LOST IN SPACE: COMPETITION PRECEDENTS AND LOCAL MARKETS
Antoine Winckler (Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton)
While new alternative approaches are now regularly put forward by regulators (e.g. GUPPI or IPP tests), in practice defining markets remains an essential first step in any antitrust analysis. defining relevant geographic market, however, remains a difficult process. In particular, setting precise boundaries of the geographical market is more complex in cases involving overlapping local markets having a certain degree of interdependence and giving rise to a “chain of substitution” effect where suppliers situated outside a relevant catchment area can still indirectly constrain prices in the area in question (“spatial competition”). When compared with other national or international guidelines, the Commission’s Notice on the definition of relevant market gives little guidance. Moreover, the Commission’s decisional practice can, at times, be even more puzzling.