October 17, 2011 Articles

When Business Torts Give Rise to Antitrust Liability

Where the tortious business conduct of a powerful rival causes harm as the result of a disruption of the competitive process, antitrust laws will impose severe sanctions.

By Kevin McCann and Alyse L. Katz

In the appropriate circumstances, the conduct underlying unfair trade practices and other business torts can also give rise to an antitrust claim. Especially in markets characterized by vigorous competition, attorneys who counsel and litigate on behalf of bitter rivals must be able to not only recognize potentially tortious competitive conduct, but also understand when conduct may be considered anticompetitive, raising the risk of liability under antitrust laws. Although the legal consequences of committing an unfair or deceptive trade practice may be severe, the consequences of violating antitrust laws can be devastating. In addition to injunctive relief, a successful antitrust plaintiff will be entitled to recover three times its damages plus the attorney fees incurred in pursuing the action.

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