2022 Hurdles Failed to Deter DOJ Antitrust Enforcement Goals
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement efforts were marked with few wins and significant losses in 2022. In this article, Lauren Briggerman, Connor Farrell, and Helen Marsh examine the blows suffered in major criminal cases, including trial losses and dismissals in the sprawling poultry price-fixing investigation and mostly acquittals in its first two labor collusion cases to face trial. The Division secured trial convictions and guilty pleas in numerous procurement bid-rigging cases through the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF). Publicly, the Division has pledged that it will continue to criminally prosecute antitrust conduct in novel or rarely tested areas of law, including labor collusion cases. It has beefed up its rosters with experienced lawyers from big law firms to support this effort. It will also likely seek to capitalize on the PCSF's successes in domestic procurement-related collusion cases. The authors conclude that the Division's unwavering commitment to enforcing criminal antitrust laws, and to flexing its enforcement muscles in untested areas of the law, means that no industry escapes their microscope. Companies should re-examine their antitrust compliance programs to ensure that they have the teeth to effectively prevent and detect antitrust violations. In particular, companies should expand antitrust training beyond their sales teams to their human resources teams. If they don't, companies and their executives may become targets of the next criminal antitrust investigation.