Optimizing Private Antitrust Enforcement
Private litigation is the predominant means of antitrust enforcement in the United States. Other jurisdictions around the world are increasingly implementing private enforcement models. Private enforcement is usually justified on either compensation or deterrence grounds. While the choice between these two goals matters, private litigation is not very effective at advancing either one. Compensation fails because the true economic victims of most antitrust violations are usually downstream consumers who are too numerous and remote to locate and compensate. Deterrence is ineffective because the time lag between the planning of the violation and the legal judgment day is usually so long that the corporate managers responsible for the planning have left their corporate employer before the employer internalizes the cost of the violation. Private litigation needs to be reconceptualized entirely and redirected toward a forward-looking, problem-solving approach to market power issues.