UCL Faculty of Laws


Competition Law (EU and UK) (LAWS0252)

The aim of the module is to study EU and UK competition rules and practice in an economic context

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The module will analyse the fundamental provisions of EU competition law in particular Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the EC Merger Regulation and to a lesser extent Chapters I and II of the Competition Act 1998 as well as the main provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The course will be case law focused.

During the course, we will take a comparative law perspective and we will provide examples from cases in other major non-EU jurisdictions (such as the United States, China, Japan) that highlight the specificity of the European approach in competition law. 

Global perspective 

This is particularly important as EU competition law has served as the main model for many other competition law regimes in the world, including the UK competition law regime. It is also quite clear that EU competition law will be relevant for UK-based firms even after Brexit and that, in view of the important economic and commercial relations between the EU and the UK, EU-based lawyers will need to be familiar with the main principles and provisions of UK competition law. 

For instance, mergers might need to be notified in both jurisdictions if, following Brexit, the system of one-stop shop for merger notifications to the Commission does not apply. The UK competition law system also includes innovative provisions on the criminalisation of cartel activity and the control of oligopolies through a system of market investigation references that may be emulated in other jurisdictions.   

A thorough understanding of all areas of EU and UK competition law will provide students from other jurisdictions a valuable perspective on their own competition law regimes. 

The module will cover vertical and horizontal agreements, abuses of market power, merger control policy and practice and a brief introduction to the DMA.

Having successfully completed the module, students will be able to demonstrate a critical knowledge of substantive issues in EU and UK competition law with particular focus on:

  • Vertical and horizontal agreements
  • Abuse of dominant position
  • Merger control law and policy

Module Syllabus

1. Introduction to competition law and policy: 

  • Origin of EU and UK competition law
  • Aims and key concepts
  • Competition law and public policy
  • Consumer Welfare vs Total Welfare Efficiencies

2. How do economic concepts fit in legal system? (I)

  • Distinction Article 101 and Article 102, Chapter I and Chapter II (CA98)
  • What is a concerted practice
  • Can a dominant position be held or abused “collectively”
  • Exploitation vs foreclosure
  • The two tier approach in Treaty provisions
  • Restriction 101(1) and efficiency 101(3)
  • Dominance and abuse
  • Market definition and Market Power

3. How do economic concepts fit in legal system? (II)

4. De minimis rule and hardcore restrictions

  • The use of “rule of reason” and block exemption safe harbours
  • Effect on trade concept
  • How is EU Competition Law enforced under Regulation 1/2003

5. Cartels

  • What is naked cartel? (use of lysine tape)
  • The Cartel Offence in the UK and enforcement power
  • Fines
  • Leniency programmes

6. Oligopoly under EU Competition Law

  • Concerted practices under Article 101
  • Exclusionary practices by oligopolists under Article 102
  • Information Exchanges
  • The Market Investigation References system in UK Competition Law

7. Horizontal agreements; and Article 101(3) justifications and UK equivalents

8. EU Merger Regulation and introduction to UK merger control

  • Framework
  • Test
  • Full function JVs
  • Counterfactual
  • Standard and Burden of Proof

9. Horizontal Mergers (I)

  • Unilateral effects

Horizontal Mergers (II)

  • Coordinated effects
  • Efficiencies
  • Remedies

10. Introduction to abuse of dominance

  • Market definition as tool
  • Dominance as a filter
  • Unilateral foreclosure vs Exploitation 
  • Proof of foreclosure and defences

11. Unilateral practices: predatory and selective pricing

  • Unilateral practices: single branding, rebates
  • Unilateral practices: refusal to supply, refusal to license and margin squeeze
  • Unilateral practices: tying and bundling
  • Non-Horizontal mergers
  • Vertical agreements, distribution practices
  • IP, Innovation and licensing

Recommended Materials

  • Lianos, I., Korah, V., Siciliani, P. (2019). Competition Law: Analysis, Cases & Materials (OUP 2019)
  • Lianos, I., Gerardin, D., ed. (2013). Handbook in European Competition Law: Substantive Issues. (Edward Elgar) 

And as an economic supplement:

  • Niels, G., Jenkins, H., and Kavanagh, J. (2016). Economics for Competition Lawyers. 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading

  • Whish, R. and Bailey, D. (10th edn, 2021). Competition Law (Oxford University Press)

Key information

Module details
Credit value:45 credits (450 learning hours)
Convenor:Ioannis Lianos and Despoina (Deni) Mantzari 
Other Teachers:

Kyriakos Fountoukakos (Visiting Lecturer, Herbert Smith Freehills)

Teaching Delivery:

20 x 2-hour weekly lectures, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two 
4 (4x 1hr tutorials) 

Who may enrol:Any UCL LLM student
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in Competition Law 
LLM in European Union Law 
LLM in Law and Political Economy  
Practice Assessment:Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay per term (two in total) 
Final Assessment:Exam (70%) and 3,000 Word Essay (30%)