Illiberal Populism and Antitrust: Impact Scenarios

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11 February 2020 at UNSW Law, Sydney

Presenter: Dr Maciej Bernatt, Head of the Department of European Economic Law, University of Warsaw, Poland*


  • Adam Czarnota, Associate Professor, UNSW Law School, Chief Investigator, ARC Discovery Project on ‘Contemporary Populism: Friend or Foe of Constitutional Democracy?’
  • Deborah Healey,  Professor at UNSW Law School, and a Director of the Herbert Smith Freehills China International Business and Economic Law Centre
  • Martin Krygier, Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory, UNSW Law School, Chief Investigator, ARC Discovery Project on ‘Contemporary Populism: Friend or Foe of Constitutional Democracy?’
  • Yane Svetiev, Associate Professor, University of Sydney Law School

It is widely accepted that competition law is directed at protecting consumer welfare. At the same time, however, competitive markets are conducive to liberal democratic processes based on equality of chances and economic freedom.

Dr Maciej Bernatt will present findings from a study that addresses the question whether these fundamental characteristics of competition law may be at risk due to the rise of illiberal populism, a rise which can be observed in many countries on different continents. The study has examined changes in the competition law system related to the rise of populism, focusing on four areas: the institutional organization and functioning of competition agencies and courts; the practice of enforcement of competition law by competition agencies; the advocacy practice of competition agencies; and the functioning of regional systems of competition law (in particular the EU system).

Drawing on socio-legal techniques, the research aims to produce insights in relation to questions regarding the relationship between competition law, democracy, and regional integration, including: To what extent is competition law interconnected with the principles of liberal democracy? Does the deconstruction of a legal system based on the rule of law, separation of powers, and checks and balances lead to negative effects for competition law systems? How far do these processes affect regional economic integration, of which competition law is an important element? Initial findings from the project are set out in a working paper, “Illiberal Populism: Competition Law At Risk” and a paper focused on rule of law crisis in Europe and its implications on the competition law system in the EU.

The event is free but registration is important to secure your seat.

Our project is co-hosting this talk with the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law.

*Dr Bernatt is the head of the Department of European Economic Law (Jean Monnet Chair), Faculty of Management, University of Warsaw. He also acts as Scientific Secretary of the Centre of Antitrust and Regulatory Studies at the University of Warsaw and the Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook of Antitrust and Regulatory Studies. At the University he teaches EU economic law, international and comparative competition law, as well as courses in business and human rights. In the past Dr Bernatt has worked as a référendaire in the Polish Supreme Court and in the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland as well as in the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, where he coordinated the Strategic Litigation Program. He has been involved in cases litigated before the European Court of Human Rights and Polish courts. Maciej’s areas of interest include competition law, administrative law, constitutional law, and EU law, with a focus on enforcement of competition law and protection of fundamental rights (especially the right to a fair trial), as well as businesshuman rights relations.