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Competition law prohibits any form of horizontal agreements aimed at coordinating prices and restricting output. In absence of direct and indisputable evidence, however, it might be difficult to establish whether a group of firms has colluded.

Economic analysis is increasingly being used to distinguish between conduct that is due to unlawful agreements and that which arises from independent decisions. Economic theories and quantitative methods may help in shedding light on whether certain business practices and market structures are consistent with the hypothesis that market participants are acting independently or whether the firms are coordinating their behavior.

Even when the existence of a cartel is beyond dispute, economic analysis is crucial to quantify the impact of the agreement on prices and quantities and to determine the appropriate fine.

In addition, some horizontal agreements, such as joint ventures or standard setting arrangements, are not illegal, provided they generate efficiency benefits for consumers that could not be achieved in a less restrictive manner. Economic tools and techniques play an important role in assessing whether the expected efficiency gains outweigh the possible anticompetitive effects.

If your company is suspected of having formed a cartel, we can draw on the most recent developments in industrial organization and employ advanced empirical techniques to support you in developing a defense strategy.

We have extensive experience in advising companies involved in cartel investigations in a variety of markets, ranging from gasoline and jet fuel to infant milk, beauty products, health testing devices, marine paints and insurance.

If your company needs advice to tackle any competition economics issue related to a cartel allegation, contact us.


Latest Engagements

Alleged cartel in the market of corrugated cardboard sheets and boxes

The Italian Competition Authority has ascertained the existence of an alleged anticompetitive agreement in the market for corrugated boxes. Lear assisted International Paper in challenging the Italian Competition Authority’s decision before the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio.


Lear’s economists assisted the members of ASLO (Asociatia Societatilor de Leasing Operational), i.e. the Romanian industry trade association of operating leasing companies, investigated by the Romanian Competition Council for having allegedly enabled an exchange of sensitive commercial information among its associates.

Alleged horizontal agreement in the mobile telecom market

The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) started an investigation into the retail market for mobile telecommunications services to assess whether mobile operators coordinated their strategy with reference to a change in the billing cycle for mobile services imposed by a change in regulation. More specifically, the operators have all reacted to the change in regulation in […] Read more

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