Competition Law Reform in Britain and Japan: Comparative Analysis of Policy Network

By Kenji Suzuki | Go to book overview

2

Early history and cases of invention-type policy innovation in the 1970s

In the 1970s, both Britain and Japan experienced large-scale reforms of competition law. In Britain, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), a quasi-independent body engaged in the administration of British competition policy, was newly established under the framework of the Fair Trading Act (FTA) in 1973. In Japan, attempts were made to strengthen the Anti-monopoly Act (AMA) by means of legislative change in 1977, which was the first such change in the history of Japanese competition law. It is important to keep in mind that these cases represent the invention-type policy innovation, rather than the transfer-type policy innovation. The idea of harmonisation with international standard practices failed to gain much support, and the policy output was not seen as the result of policy transfer from other jurisdictions.

This chapter has two aims. First, it traces the development of competition law in earlier years in order to understand the historical context, and also to identify the core actors of the competition policy network. Second, the above 1970s cases are closely investigated to observe the policy-making process vis-à-vis invention-type policy innovation. The first two sections and the last two sections look at Britain and Japan respectively. For each country, the first part traces the early history of competition law, and the second part closely investigates the policy-making process with regard to the cases of the 1970s.


Historical development of British competition law

The origin of UK competition law

There was no special legal system dealing with competition policy until the nineteenth century, but statutory control over anti-competitive practices of businesses has gradually been developed within the framework of English common law over the course of centuries. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, common-law judges came to apply two doctrines: the restraint of trade doctrine, and the tort of conspiracy doctrine. 1

The restraint of trade doctrine provides that the courts will not enforce a contract which unreasonably restrains a person from exercising his/her trade. Apparently, this can be utilised to wipe out such practices as cartels. However,

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