Combining cartel penalties and private damage actions: The impact on cartel prices

Yannis Katsoulacos, Evgenia Motchenkova, David Ulph*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In many countries antitrust enforcement by Competition Authorities through prosecution and the imposition of penalties is complemented in price-fixing cases by private damage actions, which should affect both cartel deterrence and the prices set by those cartels that do form. We show that the impact of combining penalties and damages on cartel prices is not clearcut, and depends on both the nature of the penalty regime and the way that damages are calculated. We demonstrate this by focusing on two ways of calculating damages that have been advocated in practice and two different forms of the widely used revenue-based penalty regime. When the simple form of revenue-based penalties is in force, the standard method of calculating damages worsens its harmful pricing effects, whereas the proposed alternative method of calculating damages can overturn them. When a more sophisticated form of revenue-based penalties is in operation, imposing damages will improve its beneficial pricing effects under both methods of damage calculation, but the alternative method is more effective. In all cases combining penalties and damages improves deterrence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102604
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Organization
Early online date7 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Antitrust enforcement
  • Antitrust law
  • Antitrust penalties
  • Cartel damages
  • Cartels


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