Antitrust enforcement in labor markets has become a focus of the U.S. antitrust regulators in recent years, with particular scrutiny on agreements between employers not to recruit or solicit each other’s employees—so-called “no poach” agreements.  In a recent decision, a court in China held no‑poach and employee compensation-fixing agreements to be illegal, the first such court decision in the country.  The court’s decision, however, reveals the difficulties in analyzing no-poach agreements within China’s existing antitrust regime and analytical framework.  This article provides an overview of the Chinese court’s reasoning in its recent decision and a comparative assessment to the approach in the United States.

On February 23, 2022, the General Court dismissed UPS’ €1.7 billion claim for damages allegedly suffered due to the Commission’s prohibition of the proposed €5.2 billion merger between UPS and TNT Express (“TNT”). Although the General Court had previously annulled the Commission prohibition decision due to procedural deficiencies, it rejected UPS’ follow-on damages claim because UPS failed to demonstrate that it would have secured approval for the TNT transaction absent the procedural breach.[1]

By an order issued on January 18, 2022,[1] the Italian Supreme Court rejected as inadmissible an application lodged by Kuadra S.r.l. (“Kuadra”) for cassation of a ruling delivered in 2019 by the Council of State,[2] which upheld an ICA decision fining Kuadra for its participation in an alleged anticompetitive agreement aimed at altering the outcome of a public tender for cleaning and maintenance services (the “Decision”),[3] after the TAR Lazio had set it aside at first instance.[4]

On January 12, 2022, former European Central Bank official Benoît Coeuré was appointed President of the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) following his hearing by both houses of the French Parliament.[1] He was unanimously appointed by members of the Commission for Economic Affairs of the Assemblée Nationale, while the Commission for Economic Affairs of the Sénat displayed a more balanced distribution of votes (only 12 in favor out of 22 votes cast).

On January 4, 2022, the Cour de cassation confirmed the rulings of the president of the Court of Appeals validating dawn raids carried out in May 2017 by the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) in the rendering sector.[1]

On December 22, 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published its annual review for 2021.[1]  As done already on the occasion of the presentation of its Annual Report 2020/2021,[2] the FCO’s President, Andreas Mundt, emphasized again that the protection of competition in the digital economy remains one of the FCO’s top priorities.  He underlined that also merger control will continue to serve as a key tool to achieve this goal.  In addition, he pointed out that the FCO would welcome powers of intervention also with regard to infringements of consumer rights.

The UK Government has stated that the review of mergers in the UK “should be as efficient as possible, focusing its attention on mergers most likely to be harmful to competition and consumers, without unduly hindering benign investment.”[1] To that end, the UK has a voluntary, non-suspensive system of merger control, intended to promote greater flexibility and proportionality than a suspensory regime.