Competition Law and the New Slavery
Iain Dr. Farquhar, August 2011
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Competition Law protects the consumer’s right to be serviced by slaves. Of course, we do not own slaves in the traditional fashion. The new slavery is altogether more modern. Just as many aspiring families who want a second home in the sun, whether on the Mediterranean coast or in Florida, no longer think of outright ownership of a property but choose instead to share ownership with other families, today’s consumers are able to benefit from the convenience of “time share slavery”, mediated by their local supermarket, fashionable clothes retailer or electronic equipment supplier.
Nor did Competition Law set out to underpin the new arrangement. On the contrary, Competition Law set out with the best and most honourable of intentions, but what happened was that the world changed and the Law didn’t. It failed to adapt to the new globalised economies and it failed to adapt to the growth of giant retailing. With the Law set in aspic, while the world changed around it, unexpected consequences began to emerge.
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