Matthew Hall Quoted in GCR Story on Algorithms’ Antitrust Impact

October 16, 2018

Global Competition Review sought out McGuireWoods London partner Matthew Hall for his insights on a UK Competition and Markets Authority report that explores whether algorithms foster collusive behavior.

An Oct. 10 GCR story said the CMA working paper concluded that “… (i)n relation to facilitating existing coordination, algorithms could make explicitly collusive agreements more stable. For example, algorithms may make it easier to detect and respond to deviations and reduce the chance of errors or accidental deviations from the collusive agreement.”

Although algorithms could facilitate collusion, the paper said, enforcers in Europe, the United States and elsewhere believe that existing tools are capable of combating anti-competitive practices in the digital era.

Hall, a highly regarded antitrust/competition lawyer who practices in London and in Brussels, praised the report as valuable guidance for corporate counsel and compliance officers who use pricing algorithms. He also accepted the report’s conclusion that it’s tougher to assess the effects of algorithms on tacit collusion, the story said.

“This makes sense from a competition law point of view; there is effectively contact or information flow between competitors (indirectly using the algorithm) and awareness — or at least a blind eye being turned — to the impact on pricing,” Hall said. “This arguably goes beyond mere (legal) unilateral behavior.”