Laurence Idot (University Paris II Panthéon-Assas) - Valérie Michel-Amsellem (French Civil Supreme Court) - Robert Saint-Esteben (Bredin Prat): Reform of French competition law

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At the beginning of 2007, the magazine Concurrences published the cross interviews of the two main candidates in the French presidential election. Ms. Ségolène Royal and Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to contribute to the debate by answering a series of questions on national and Community competition law; they provided precise and detailed answers, far from mere declarations of intent. Less than a year after the presidential elections, domestic competition law is at the dawn of an in-depth reform, a sign that this matter is considered, if not at the centre of economic policy, at least as one of the important levers of the announced reforms, in particular that in favour of increasing purchasing power. The numerous commissions set up by the new Government have brought together magistrates, professionals from all sectors and academics representing many disciplines, whose combined reflections have resulted in three reports of interest to our subject, in whole or in part: the Attali report, the Hagelsteen report and the Coulon report. After the time of the commissions comes the time for public debate. The diversity of the subjects dealt with is matched by the diversity of legislative approaches. Two bills will bring to the centre of the parliamentary debate the reform of the conditions of sale, the penal question and group action; a draft ordinance will entrust the Government with the task of drawing up the new institutional architecture and the related procedural aspects. It would have been desirable to have had a broader debate on the latter subject. It will be remembered that the adoption of the Ordinance of 1 December 1986 was preceded by extensive consultations and exchanges, the work of which had been the subject of a publication which has long served, and still serves, as a guide to interpretation. If the enactment of a new institutional organisation is a political choice, itself based on a democratic vote, the - in-depth - reform of the procedural provisions certainly deserves to be preceded by a broad consultation of professionals and experts (academics, practitioners, companies and their representative associations). However, this does not seem to be the direction envisaged by the authors of the future ordinance. Under these conditions, and in order to participate in the reflections in progress, the review Concurrences wished to collect, on a variety of topics which could be at the heart of the reform, the crossed points of view of personalities representing three sensitivities: Mrs. Professor Laurence Idot for the university, Mrs. Valérie Michel-Amsellem for the judicial institution, Mr. Robert Saint-Esteben for the Bar. Each of them speaks here in his own name, before the publication of the expected economic reform law and ordinance.

Interview conducted by Nicolas Charbit, Editor in chief, Concurrences, Paris, New York, Christophe LemairePartner Ashurst, Associate Professor, University paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Alain RonsanoEditor "L’actu-concurrence", Paris.

1. On institutional aspects Status of members of the Competition Council The current status of the members of the Competition Council has certain advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the diversity of actors in the competitive game is ensured by personalities and representatives of civil society. On the other hand, the non-permanent status of most of these members makes their involvement in cases more difficult. Do you think this status could be usefully reformed? Should their number be reviewed to take account of the new competences envisaged? What about the status of the President? What would be the optimal length of his or her term of office? Should it always be renewable? V. M.-A.*: The composition of the Competition Council allows for an effective alchemy of skills

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Laurence Idot, Valérie Michel-Amsellem, Robert Saint-Esteben, Nicolas Charbit, Christophe Lemaire, Alain Ronzano, Laurence Idot (University Paris II Panthéon-Assas) - Valérie Michel-Amsellem (French Civil Supreme Court) - Robert Saint-Esteben (Bredin Prat): Reform of French competition law, May 2008, Concurrences N° 2-2008, Art. N° 17454, www.concurrences.com

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