Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Limits on Treble Damages for Antitrust Amnesty Applicants Extended for One Year

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

The Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 (ACPERA) has been amended to extend for one year provisions that protect successful amnesty applicants under the Department of Justice Antitrust Division corporate leniency program from treble damages in private suits.

The “Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 Extension Act” (Public Law 111-30) was signed into law on June 19, 2009. Enactment came just two days after the measure received Senate approval and ten days after it passed the House of Representatives. The legislation was introduced on June 3.

Portions of ACPERA had been scheduled to sunset on June 22, 2009. According to the original law, limitations on recovery against an amnesty applicant cease to have effect five years after the law's June 22, 2004, date of enactment. The extension ensures that antitrust amnesty agreements entered into until June 22, 2010, will shield successful applicants from treble damages.
Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, called the limitations on civil liability “an important part of the Division’s Leniency Policy.”

The limitations “removed a significant disincentive to participation in the leniency program--the concern that, despite immunity from criminal charges, a participating corporation might still be on the hook for treble damages in any future antitrust lawsuits.”

Remarking that “the incentives in this program are critical to the success of the Antitrust Division's criminal antitrust enforcement,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that “the one-year extension will allow the Department of Justice to continue this successful program while Congress assesses the long-term direction of the Department of Justice's leniency program.” Sen. Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Further information about the legislation appears here at the Library of Congress Thomas website.

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