BACKGROUND AND DEFINITIONS: THE AIM AND SCOPE OF ANTITRUST
The antitrust laws of the United States of America are unique in scope of content and rigour of enforcement. In no other country is there an equivalent body of statute law dealing with monopolies and restrictive business practices.1 At the same time it is widely conceded that the United States is pre-eminent in the power and drive of her industry and commerce. It is natural, therefore, to infer some connexion between economic success and the existence of this special body of law.
Connexion is, of course, more than conjunction; post hoc ergo propter hoc is a notorious fallacy. Even the most ardent of American 'trustbusters' would hardly claim that these laws are the sole or even the main cause of their country's high place in economic achievement. But many well-qualified persons in the United States do, in fact, believe that the antitrust laws make an important contribution to economic health; other countries have frequently been enjoined by spokesmen of the United States, both official and unofficial, to introduce similar laws and, as it is often put, 'enjoy the benefits of competition'.
It is a mistake to think that outsiders are invariably wrong about what is good for us, so that this strongly held American opinion is at least a good reason for getting to know something about the antitrust laws and the way they work.
There are other reasons besides urging from outside for interest in the subject. The performance of the British economy is by common consent a more critical matter in these days than formerly. Shortcomings, whether real or fancied, arouse a lively concern; and the effect of restrictive business practices on efficiency is one of the topics most often discussed. Successive legislative measures in Britain since the Second World War have reflected a consensus of opinion that private arrangements which suppress competition may go too far and____________________