Richard Bunworth (School of Law Doctoral Scholar)
Research Area (For the main listing): EU Competition Law
Supervisor(s): Mary Catherine Lucey
Time to reintroduce "welfare" into the consumer welfare standard? Reorienting the European Commission's focus in merger control away from prices and towards broader public interest factors
The consumer welfare standard has become central in the analysis of potential harm from proposed mergers in the EU. Although the phrase is suggestive of a broad analysis that considers general concerns of consumers, the consumer welfare standard has effectively been reduced to an assessment of economic efficiency and the impact that a merger will likely have on prices. The emphasis upon economic criteria has led the European Commission and other national competition agencies to marginalise other public interest considerations when conducting reviews.
However, increasingly there appears to be resistance from consumers against the dominance of big technology companies despite lowering prices, for example, through support for independent booksellers instead of Amazon. One may also observe a growing support for female or minority-owned businesses in the future. Such concerns have been described as ‘hipster antitrust’, and perhaps are still the privilege of wealthier or more liberal-minded consumers. In any case, what seems clear is that the European Commission is restricted from considering such factors in its analysis, whereby consumer welfare in its view will always be served by lower prices (which inevitably favours larger companies that benefit from economies of scale and sophisticated distribution channels).
As a result of the above, the focus on price effects has arguably weakened the law’s ability to deal with some of the most serious anticompetitive harms.
Therefore, the thesis will analyse whether the consumer welfare standard should be amended to include public interest considerations alongside efficiency, with specific reference to gender, race, and social inclusion, and how these factors could be incorporated in a coherent manner.
Richard is a PhD student at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin. He studied law as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin. Following completion of his undergraduate degree, Richard read for the Bachelor of Civil Laws degree at the University of Oxford. In addition, Richard obtained a Master of Arts degree from King’s College London, having submitted a thesis on innovation competition under the supervision of Dr Christopher Townley.
Richard is a solicitor, qualified to practice in Ireland and the UK, having worked in the finance department of one of Ireland’s foremost corporate law firms. Prior to that, he held a role as a researcher at a commercial litigation firm in London. He has also competed in the Willem C. Vis Commercial Arbitration Moot, representing the Law Society of Ireland.
Richard has published articles in a number of international peer-reviewed journals, including the European Competition Law Review, the International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, and the International Sports Law Journal. Richard’s primary research interests lie in EU competition law, with a particular emphasis on innovation and technology, and the increasingly prominent issue of gender in competition law. In addition, Richard has published in the area of sports law and maintains a keen interest in the interaction of sports law and sporting injuries.
Awarded a Government of Ireland Doctoral Scholarship, 2022
Awarded a Laura Bassi Scholarship, Summer 2021
Nominated for Concurrences Antitrust Writing Awards 2022 Best Student Paper for article titled “A Presumption of Harm in Innovation Merger Cases – Creating an Unfair Barrier?”
Nominated for Concurrences Antitrust Writing Awards 2021 Best Student Paper for article titled “CK Telecoms UK Limited v Commission – A Significant Impediment to Effective Protection?”
Elected as an International Ambassador to the American Bar Association Antitrust Law Section
Presentations and/or Publications:
- Richard Bunworth, ‘In the Market for a New Form of Abuse? Google Shopping and the Law on Self-Preferencing in the EU’ (2022) 42(11) Hibernian Law Journal 121
- Richard Bunworth, ‘A Presumption of Harm in Innovation Merger Cases – Creating an Unfair Barrier?’ (2021) 21 European Competition Law Review 622
- Richard Bunworth, ‘Pre-Emptive Acquisitions in the Technology Sector: Is it Time to Reconsider the Turnover Thresholds?’ (2021) 52(6) IIC - International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 734
- Richard Bunworth, ‘CK Telecoms UK Limited v Commission – A Significant Impediment to Effective Protection’ (2021) 52(3) IIC - International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 283
- Richard Bunworth, ‘The European Commission’s innovation spaces approach—a step into the unknowable?’ (2021) 42(3) European Competition Law Review 140
- Richard Bunworth, ‘Egg-shell skulls or institutional negligence? The liability of World Rugby for incidents of concussion suffered by professional players in England and Ireland’ (2016) 16 The International Sports Law Journal 82