Abuse of Dominance

As a matter of law, businesses may be dominant. Indeed, they may use their dominance  but they may never abuse that dominance. Striking that balance needs skilful and prudent advice. 

A&L Goodbody's EU, Competition & Procurement Group has an unrivalled wealth of knowledge and experience to guide clients through the complex web of abuse of dominance.

A business is dominant in a market when it has the ability to act, to an appreciable extent, independently of its competitors, customers and consumers. It is not just a matter of having a high market share, it is more a matter of having market power.

Abuse of dominance involves a misuse of market power/dominance. Examples of abuses include: predatory pricing; unjustifiable refusal to supply; and illegal rebates and discounts.

Certain forms of market conduct, which are otherwise lawful, may be prohibited when pursued by a company in a dominant position. This means that companies with high degrees of market power do not enjoy the same level of freedom in deciding their pricing, supply and distribution practices. In some limited cases, they may even be required to perform burdensome obligations, such as granting competitors access to their infrastructure or technology.

Understanding whether your business can be considered as being in a dominant position can be a complicated and technical endeavour. Both household names in well-established markets and successful first-movers in new markets can fulfil the criteria. Market positions can also change over time. Companies that have enjoyed significant or steady growth may reach a point where they can no longer engage in the very market practices which have been so successful in driving their business.

A significant proportion of our practice is also devoted to assisting companies which find themselves threatened or harmed by the abusive conduct of a competitor. We have a proven track record in bringing an end to such conduct in a timely and cost-effective manner and without needing to resort to litigation.

A&L Goodbody is also expert in advising on sector-specific dominance rules which apply to regulated sectors. Read more about A&L Goodbody's experience in electronic communications here.