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Judicial Review in European Union Competition Law: A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment
Ever since the creation of the General Court (“GC”), the effectiveness of judicial
review in European Union (“EU”) competition cases has sparked intense scholarly debates.
This paper seeks to further contribute to this discussion in three ways. First, it devotes some
space to fundamental, yet often overlooked questions, such as the goals or functions of
judicial review and why judicial review of administrative decisions is important; particularly
so in competition law matters. Second, this paper attempts to throw some empirical light on
the GC’s judicial review of European Commission (“Commission”) decisions in the field of
competition law. Third, it places a specific emphasis on the particular situation of abuse of
dominance law, where the GC has exercised its judicial review power with more restraint than
in other areas of competition law (such as restrictive agreements and mergers).
With these goals in mind, this paper follows a five-stage progression. First, on the basis of a
survey of the relevant legal, economic and political science literature, it defines the functions
of judicial review and identifies a set of indicators which can be used to assess the
performance of the GC’s judicial scrutiny (Part I). Second, it explains why judicial review in
EU competition law cases is of critical importance notably given the institutional and
procedural deficiencies of the EU enforcement structure (Part II). Third, it discusses the
nature and standard of review currently applied by the GC with a particular focus on the
degree to which the GC is willing to review “complex economic matters” (Part III). Fourth, it
provides some quantitative data on the case-law of the GC to assess whether several goals or
functions attributed to judicial review by the scientific literature are met (Part IV). Finally,
this paper takes a closer look at the (controversial) case-law of the GC in the field of Article
102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) (Part V).