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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2021 - 2022

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

The objective of this course is to give students a good understanding of competition law policy and the basic economic principles that underpin the modern competition law rules. The course will be structured around the key elements of European Union competition law but, where appropriate, will draw on principles from other competition law regimes around the world.

Learning Outcomes

1. describe the key principles of competition law including market definition, horizontal cooperation, vertical foreclosure, and other restraints of trade
2. describe with the applicable case law on Articles 101 and 102
3. describe with the applicable State aid rules, the reasons for the State aid rules and how they are applied in practice.
4. assess the basic concepts of consumer harm, consumer welfare, and welfare loss
5. explain the fundamentals of merger control and how the discipline works in practice at both the Member State and European Commission level
6. apply competition law principles in the context of a moot case brought to the European Commission, including engagement with strategies generally adopted by litigating parties.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Total Workload: 0

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

The History of Competition Law
Competition Law (or “Antitrust”) first emerged as a distinct legal discipline in the United States towards the end of the 19th century. The so-called “gilded age” saw unprecedented levels of industrial concentration, most prominently in the oil & gas and transportation sectors. The Sherman Act of 1890 was designed to give the U.S. Federal Government the authority to regulate and, if necessary, break-up the so-called economic “trusts” which were deemed to constitute a bottleneck in the economy. “Trusts” in this context were essentially large conglomerate corporations, the most famous of which was Standard Oil, owned by John D. Rockefeller. Using the Sherman Act as a legal basis, the Supreme Court ordered the break-up of Standard Oil in 1911 and competition law as a legal discipline had its first major landmark case. The Treaty of Rome of 1957 saw the codification of competition law within the new regulatory architecture of the European Economic Community. Articles 81 and 82 (now renumbered as 101 and 102) were the bedrock of European competition law and complemented separate rules regarding merger control and State aid. This section of the course will analyse the key historical developments as well as the long lineage of underlying economic thinking ranging from the structural “Harvard School” to the more recent neoliberal “Chicago School”.

Article 101
Article 101 prohibits anti-competitive agreements between competitors. Absent an adequate and quantifiable efficiency defence, Article 101 prohibits any agreement between competitors which has as its object or effect the restriction of competition within any defined product market. This element of the course will breakdown the key components of Article 101. Specifically, we will look a) the concept of an “undertaking”, b) market definition and the identification of “competitors”, c) the nature of an “agreement” under the law, d) oligopolistic markets, e) price signalling and e) efficiency defences. Under this module we will also analyse the specific case of price fixing cartels and discuss how they are categorised under the law, as opposed to other contacts between competitors.

Article 102
Article 102 prohibits abusive conduct by a dominant company which forecloses competition. Similar to Article 101, the text and case law of Article 102 throws up a number of conceptual and definitional issues which will be analysed in this module. For example, what is a “dominant” company? How is dominance assessed? What is “abusive conduct”? During this module, we will look at several of the landmark cases in EU competition law including the IMS/Magill decision, the Microsoft decision (2007), the Commission’s Google decision (search advertising), the recent CJEU decision on price rebates in Intel, and the Commission’s ongoing investigations into Google (Android) and Qualcomm (chipset rebates).

Merger control
Merger Control is the regulatory regime whereby mergers and acquisition above a certain monetary value must be notified to applicable competition authorities for approval. In this section of the course, we will look at the emergence of merger control as a significant regulatory requirement and its subsequent proliferation in legal systems around the world. We will first consider the practical aspects of merger control and examine how companies decide when they must notify a deal to one or more competition authorities. We will then look at how regulators assess deals and consider the potential “theories of harm” that regulators can use to block deals or request remedies. We will look at some well-known cases such as GE/Honeywell, Ryanair/Aer Lingus, and Kraft/Cadbury.

State aid
Under the principles of a free market, companies must compete on their own merits and should not receive support from the State. This prohibition on anti-competitive State aid forms part of the Treaty (Article 107) and is thus one of the key principles of EU competition law. In this section of the course, we will look at the nature of “aid”, the definition of State resources, and the exemptions to the general rules.

Competition law in practice
Having worked through the key theoretical elements of competition law, we will finish the course by looking at how competition law works in practice. We will examine how a competition law case before the European Commission works in reality and discuss some procedural strengths and weaknesses of the EU system. We will also look at how the regulators cooperate with each other, in particular, regarding merger notifications that have been filed in multiple jurisdictions.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Jones & Sufrin, EU Competition Law, OUP 2014, Chapter 1: 2014, EU Competition Law, OUP,
  • Monti, EC Competition Law, CUP 2007: 0, EC Competition Law,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes