The AECLJ is currently organised under the law of England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee on a not for profit basis. The Directors of the AECLJ (known as the “Council”) comprise nominated judges. The President of the AECLJ is Judge Wolfgang Kirchhoff, President of the Cartel Chamber of the Bundesgerichtshof, Germany. The Deputy President is Judge Anne-Marie Witters, of the Market Court in Brussels, Belgium. Christopher now Lord Bellamy, (who was the first President of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, a former judge of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities and the first President of the AECLJ) is the Honorary President of the AECLJ. The Treasurer is Judge Ingeborg Simonsson of the Svea Court of Appeal, Stockholm.
The members of the AECLJ have elected an Executive Committee to be primarily responsible for the implementation of the AECLJ’s activities. In addition to the President, Deputy President and Treasurer of the AECLJ, the members of the Executive Committee elected at the annual general meeting in 2022 were the following:
Judge Iannis Symplis - Council of State, Greece– past host judge
Judge Irmantas Jarukaitis - European Union Court of Justice
Judge Mads Bundgaard Larsen - Maritime and Commercial High Court, Denmark – past host judge
Judge Marta Borges Campos, Competition, Regulation and Supervision Court, Portugal
Judge Mercedes Pedraz Calvo - La Audencia Nacional, Spain– past host judge
Judge Myra Raycheva, Supreme Court of Bulgaria;
Judge Peter Roth, Past President and now a chairman of the United Kingdom Competition Appeal Tribunal
Judge Silvia Giani, Court of Appeal, Milan, Italy
Judge Skirgailė Žalimienė, Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania
Judge Sylvaine Poillot-Peruzzetto, French Cours de Cassation;
Judge Théa Harles-Walch - Court of Appeal, Luxembourg – past host judge
The Secretary-General of the AECLJ is Charles Dhanowa, the Registrar of the United Kingdom Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). Since the foundation of the Association the CAT has acted as the Secretariat for the AECLJ and provides administrative support for its activities. Dr Adam Scott, formerly a founding Member of the CAT and now its Director of Studies and, when intra-EU matters are concerned, Anne-Marie Witters (see above) co-ordinate these activities.
The main purpose of the AECLJ is to provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of competition law among the judiciary across the European Union and elsewhere in Europe thereby promoting a coherency and consistency of approach, particularly in the context of the modernisation of the application of Articles 101 and 102 under EC Regulation 1/2003 and, nowadays, of similar provisions in Member States, in the EEA, in Switzerland and in the United Kingdom.
Regulation 1/2003 “modernised” the enforcement of EU competition law placing a renewed emphasis both on public enforcement by national authorities in the Member States and on private actions in the national courts. Both judicial oversight of the actions of national authorities and conduct of private actions fall to the national judiciaries who now have an increased role in the European system of competition law.
The national competition authorities in the European Union meet regularly under the auspices of the European Competition Network (ECN). No similar institutional arrangement was established by the European Union for national judges. While in other fields of harmonised law the European Commission organises conferences where judges can exchange experience, it acts with restraint in the competition law field because the Commission is a competition authority and is mindful of the need to maintain the proper distance between itself and the European judiciaries. In the light of their increased role, the national judiciaries have particularly felt the need to be able to meet under the auspices of a body such as the AECLJ in order to discuss issues of common concern and “best practice”.
Since, to a large extent, competition law is now applied in Europe by national judges, it is of vital importance that judges dealing with this field of law in the are able to communicate on an informal level, discussing matters of common concern and enquiring about parallel proceedings. The consistent application of competition law largely depends on the existence of a network to facilitate such an exchange of experience within Europe.