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Department of Justice Touts Its Antitrust Practice

Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC

On September 19, Joseph Wayland, head of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, spoke of the Division's recent performance and future outlook at Georgetown Law's 6th Annual Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium.
In his speech, he highlighted recent successes in tough litigation cases such as the one brought against AU Optronics Corporation for price fixing. With strong legal showings over the past two years, Wayland claimed, the Antitrust Division hopes to demonstrate its strong commitment to preventing unfair market practices and maintaining a competitive market. At the same time, Wayland also touted the Antitrust Division's impressive track record as a key factor in its ability to intimidate firms and resolve negotiations before litigations need to be filed, as was the case with the 3M and Avery merger deal as well as the AT&T and T-Mobile merger which was shelved after a mere four months. According to Wayland, the Division always prefers to settle cases in this way, opting for negotiations and dialog before legal action.

To this end, Wayland credited a great deal of the Division's successes to what he called “front office” workers, a group of individuals consisting of senior managers and directors of criminal and civil enforcement who scrutinize and filter merger cases, selecting the ones in which litigations seem likely and leaving out the ones the pose no real harm to competition. Through this practice, as Wayland pointed out, the Division is able to maximize its resources and commit itself fully to only the most pressing anti-competitive matters. This is not to say, however, that the Antitrust Division has softened on its litigation abilities. As Wayland reiterated throughout his speech, the Division has taken measures to bolster its legal capabilities to ensure that when litigations do occur, it can win.

Two notable policy changes that Wayland highlighted were the employment of experienced litigation attorneys from across the private sector and the establishment of a training program for young lawyers to hone and refine their trial skills. Overall, the speech reflected an Antitrust Division that is confident in its current capabilities, one that seemed well-equipped to meet the standards that it has set for itself.

Thomas Chao

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