On November 10, 2021, AAI hosted its 15th annual Private Antitrust Enforcement Conference featuring experts and thought-leaders from across the antitrust community, including enforcement, advocacy, and academia. The panel “New Antitrust Legislative Developments: Possibilities & Risks” focused on recent developments in antitrust reform in both the Biden administration and Congress, potential developments, and associated risks and opportunities. Panelists engaged in robust discussion regarding the interplay between public and private enforcement, as the implications of some proposals for the preserving the effectiveness of private enforcement. Certain bills are limited in scope, and panelists debated the political dynamics behind them and potential blind spots within them, in contrast to more comprehensive structural reform proposals. Panelists examined the unique circumstances of antitrust law, discussing political culture and whether current consensus towards bolstering and renewing antitrust will have bipartisan staying power, or is more of a tenuous moment.
Highlights from the speakers:
Seth Bloom, President and Founder, Bloom Strategic Counsel, PLLC
“We’re in a unique time right now in antitrust legislation. I have 25 years of experience in antitrust; I’ve never seen a time like this. I can’t think of a time like this, [at least] in 100 years. (…) You have this unique combination of Democrats and Republicans, and a consensus emerging, from the left and the right, that we need to step up antitrust enforcement; they believe we really need to do antitrust reform.”
Pamela Gilbert, Partner, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP
“The way they’ve crafted these bills is they have to have a market cap of over $600B – that’s right, with a ‘b’ – or you don’t fall under the scope of the bill…Well the flip side of that [is]: these are the wealthiest companies around; they have enormous political power as well. So there is bipartisan support for these bills, and there are armies and armies of lobbyists, and political money [trying] to stop them.”
Matthew Wessler, Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC
“In the absence of private enforcement… you really risk blunting whatever impact you want to have passing these bills in the first place. Without that kind of mechanism, you run the risk that the legislation could end up being more of a hollow signal more than anything else.”