Fabrizio Esposito (EUI), ‘The case for a collaboration between law and economics: Minimalism, consumer welfare and fairness in EU antitrust and consumer law’ (24 April 2018)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018, from 2pm to 4 pm, Porthania P673 (6th floor).

“Market relations ought to be fair or efficient?”. This short question encapsulates the core of the conceptual disconnect between legal and economic research. The tensions between the two disciplines ultimately rest of the divergent answers to this question. This research shows that this sempiternal disagreement rests on a false assumption, namely that fairness and market efficiency are necessarily different concepts. A different account is possible. An efficient allocation of resources maximises consumer welfare, and not total welfare. Moreover, an efficient allocation of resources ensures the equality between the performances of the contractual parties and therefore the fairness of market relation. Accordingly, a fair market allocation is efficient and an efficient market allocation is fair.

This finding calls for a collaboration between lawyers and economists. This collaboration requires respecting the core commitments of the disciplines involved while, at the same time, taking full advantage of their comparative advantages. This primary claim is warranted by three sub-claims: one economic, one translational, and one doctrinal. The economic claim holds that consumer welfare is a maximand used in market efficiency analysis in alternative to total welfare. The translation claim holds that with consumer welfare as the maximand, it is possible to offer a plausible economic account of fair market relations. Finally, the doctrinal claim holds that consumer welfare explains better than total welfare the content and practice of a significant portion of EU antitrust and consumer law as it currently stands.


Fabrizio Esposito is completing his doctoral thesis at the European University Institute. You can download the presentation here.

This is a session in the Postgraduate Research Seminar (‘tutkijaseminaari’) for General Jurisprudential Studies (i.e. legal history, legal theory, sociology of law, law and gender studies), but all interested are cordially welcome. The session will be chaired by Professor Heikki Pihlajamäki.

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