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 PostPost subject: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:15 am 
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BRUSSELS -- IntelCorp. appealed a billion-euro antitrust fine Wednesday. That was expected. But among the chip giant's arguments is an unlikely complaint: Its human rights were violated.

Intel isn't alone. A growing list of companies are raising the charge that the EU's vigorous antitrust watchdog is running afoul of protections afforded by European human-rights law. The companies argue they have a right to have their case heard in a court instead of an administrative body.

When the EU's antitrust body handles a case, it both investigates and renders judgment. The companies say they don't have a full opportunity to defend themselves against the charges, as they would in a court.

The human-rights maneuver is something of a Hail Mary pass -- no EU antitrust appeal has won on the argument. Intel's precise legal arguments aren't known; under EU procedure, court case files are closed to public inspection. A company spokesman confirmed the company is raising human-rights issues, but he didn't provide details. It will be more than a year before the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg rules.

Also trying the human-rights move is Saint-Gobain Glass France SA, a big glass maker that swallowed an €899 million ($1.3 billion) fine last year. Schindler Holding Ltd. is also appealing a €147 million fine using the human-rights argument. Rulings are pending in the cases.

The argument raises a fundamental question: Because the EU regulator's recent fines have been so big, should these types of cases be treated as criminal and heard in a court?

EU courts have long said no, but some think it now has. "There is no doubt that antitrust proceedings are criminal in nature," says Arianna Andreangeli of the University of Liverpool, who cites the size of the fines and their "deterrent and punitive" character.

The issue calls into question the EU's practice of having a political appointee -- the current antitrust commissioner is Neelie Kroes of the Netherlands -- who supervises investigations, and then decides whether the company is guilty and what the punishment should be. Her decisions are formally approved by all the 27 EU commissioners, but in practice they are rarely questioned.

That kind of administrative procedure was appropriate four decades ago, when the EU began handing out relatively small fines, defense lawyers say, but outmoded in an era in which nine-figure penalties common. Intel holds the dubious record for a single fine: €1.06 billion; the commission said it used a variety of tactics to box Advanced Micro Devices Inc. out of the market for computer microprocessors.

When it comes to a billion-euro fine, says Denis Waelbroeck of Ashurst LLP in Brussels, "you expect a judge to decide." In the U.S., administrative law judges or federal district judges hear complaints brought by antitrust regulators.

In recent months, the human-rights question -- it's generally agreed that in certain contexts the laws apply to corporations too -- has been debated by lawyers and academics at conferences and in papers.

The European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty signed by all EU countries, sets out standards for criminal proceedings, among them a fair hearing by an "independent and impartial tribunal."

But commission officials argue that the regulator doesn't need to be an impartial tribunal, and EU courts have agreed. "Each and every decision can be appealed" to the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, which is independent, says Jonathan Todd, spokesman for Mrs. Kroes.

He adds that the commission has "very, very strict safeguards for defendant's rights," including an internal "devil's advocate" panel that stress-tests potential cases and a hearing at which companies can present their defense.

Wolfgang Bosch of Gleiss Lutz in Frankfurt, who represents Schindler, says the safeguards are weak. "You do not get the opportunity for a hearing before someone who decides," he says. Hearing officers who preside at the closed-door proceedings have authority only to ensure that rules have been followed.

Mr. Bosch and other lawyers say the recent jump in the size of fines has accelerated the tilt toward criminality.

They cite rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg that set out qualitative criteria for what's to be considered criminal; among the criteria is the severity of the punishment.

Mr. Todd disagrees: "The size of the fine is irrelevant to whether the procedure is criminal," he says.

The system of "deterrent administrative fines has been a tremendous success," wrote Philip Lowe, the top civil servant in the European Commission's antitrust directorate, in an article last month in the antitrust journal GCP. "It has managed to put an end to the view, long prevalent in Europe, that antitrust infringements are trivial."

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124826913522171933.html

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:27 am 
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What a complete and utter load of bollocks. A corporate entity has no human rights, and it is a very slippery slope to rule that a corporation has the same rights as a human being. It's a damn good thing I ain't in charge because I'd fine Intel another billion just for taking the michael.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:10 am 
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OG wrote:
What a complete and utter load of bollocks. A corporate entity has no human rights, and it is a very slippery slope to rule that a corporation has the same rights as a human being. It's a damn good thing I ain't in charge because I'd fine Intel another billion just for taking the michael.

They are just trying to claim anything random to gain time; they know that they will ultimate lose.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:13 am 
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In the US, companies are afforded the same rights as anyone else. They have the same freedoms and are afford the right to trials, as anyone else.

When the US investigates anti-trust allegations, and if they decide to pursue the company, the case is heard in a court of law.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:35 am 
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Some Supreme Court ruling from the 1800's has no legal standing in Europe. A ruling which I might add dictates that should a corporation claim personhood, their shareholders would be considered slaves and the corporate entity would be guilty of slavery (due to the contradictory nature of the ruling). In other words, its a retarded law. In the US a corporation is only considered a "person" to ensure due process, and equal rights in the eyes of the law, they are not considered to be an individual with all the rights and freedoms afforded to individual human beings. It is a legal term, nothing more. The same is true for the most part in Europe, but without the retarded law setting precedent. This is yet more corporate shenanigans. Intel are trying to bend and twist the law to suit them, and I hope they do not succeed.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:46 am 
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Question, where does all the money the EU takes in fines go?


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:38 am 
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The cash more than likely gets pumped back into the EU economy via initiative funding and other grants. Considering the amount of price discrimination Europe has to put up with from US companies like Microsoft and Intel, its like recouping some of the money we got ripped off for at the checkout. Well thats how I see it anyway. Shame the man on the street is unlikely to see it though, probably go to build some bypass through a leafy village.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:10 am 
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OG wrote:
The cash more than likely gets pumped back into the EU economy via initiative funding and other grants. Considering the amount of price discrimination Europe has to put up with from US companies like Microsoft and Intel, its like recouping some of the money we got ripped off for at the checkout. Well thats how I see it anyway. Shame the man on the street is unlikely to see it though, probably go to build some bypass through a leafy village.

Ya, unfortunately AMD get none of the money.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:33 pm 
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Day2Die wrote:
OG wrote:
The cash more than likely gets pumped back into the EU economy via initiative funding and other grants. Considering the amount of price discrimination Europe has to put up with from US companies like Microsoft and Intel, its like recouping some of the money we got ripped off for at the checkout. Well thats how I see it anyway. Shame the man on the street is unlikely to see it though, probably go to build some bypass through a leafy village.

Ya, unfortunately AMD get none of the money.

But it's not AMD suing Intel, so your point is...ermmmm... well I don't see what it is.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:59 pm 
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OG wrote:
Some Supreme Court ruling from the 1800's has no legal standing in Europe.


I didn't say that a US Supreme Court ruling had any legal standing in Europe, did I? No. So why you're telling me this, I haven't got a clue. :?


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust        Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:05 pm 
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Ambig wrote:
In the US, companies are afforded the same rights as anyone else. They have the same freedoms and are afford the right to trials, as anyone else.

When the US investigates anti-trust allegations, and if they decide to pursue the company, the case is heard in a court of law.


As you can see, you made a point to tell us what the US does, which has nothing to do with anything in this case. No one cares what the legal position is in the US, this is not the Unites States.

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