Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



A recent empirical study estimates that from 1990 to the end of 2005, 283 private international cartels were discovered and that the overcharges from these cartels totaled $500 billion. Estimates of the percentage of all detected cartels range from one in six or seven to one in 10. If the one in 10 number is correct, that would mean that overcharges from international cartels in the last 15 years were $5 trillion, or about $330 billion per year. Even assuming that the detection rate is higher today due to the success of the US Justice Department's leniency program and stepped up anti-cartel enforcement around the world, it is clear that international cartels exact hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal overcharges from consumers around the world every year. Indeed, as John Connor shows in his chapter in this volume, international cartels impose overcharges that exceed those of purely domestic cartels.

The United States historically has been the leader in private anti-cartel enforcement. Features that make cartel enforcement in US courts attractive include class actions, broad discovery rights, a judiciary receptive to antitrust claims, a well developed body of cartel law, liberality in proof of damages, and the treble damages remedy. As long as the US played a dominant role in private anti-international cartel enforcement, there seemed to be little need to encourage the development of private cartel enforcement in other countries.


Reproduced with permissions