Academic commentary on law, business, economics and more

August 5, 2008

Corporate Assassinations and Antitrust

posted by Josh Wright at 11:00 pm

Over at Overcoming Bias, they are asking the following question:

Given how little it seems to cost to have someone killed, why don’t more corporations have their competitors’ leaders knocked off?

There are interesting answers in the comments suggesting that perhaps these killings or rival firms’ leaders are more common or more costly than commonly thought. Here’s a different question that only an antitrust junkie would ask: Would such a corporate assassination give rise to an antitrust violation? I usually discuss this issue with my antitrust classes in the context of examining the overlaps and distinctions between tort and antitrust (usually in the context of the Conwood case, which I have written about in some detail here), but criminal law seems to work just as well and provides more interesting hypos to work with. To make the question more interesting, assume that Firm X has a 90% market share and its CEO hires an assassin to kill the very important and productive CEO of its leading and up and coming rival Firm Y. Has X violated any antitrust laws? Does the price of the assassination services matter? What if the victim was not productive but was a bad CEO and was replaced by a more productive and effective executive?