Both anti-corruption law and anti-trust law aim to create a level playing field and they are complementary to each other in support of this aim. Given the indispensable nature of both fields in terms of reaching social welfare, it is striking how differently society reacts to the breaching behaviour of each field. On the one hand, if a company engages in corrupt behaviour, the perpetrator will be shunned from society, its behaviour generating strong moral reactions. Civil society organizations, both global and local, will publicize this corruption. The private and public sector, along with civil society organizations, will come together to find ways to eradicate it. The mood of such collaboration will dictate that the good are fighting the bad when fighting corruption.
On the other hand, the fight against anti-competitive behaviour may not always be as outrageous as fighting corruption. As for technocrats, when they encounter anti-competitive behaviour, they will fight such acts, enforce fines on the perpetrators and order them to stop violations. Corporations would attempt to do their best to be careful not to engage in anti-competitive behaviour the next time and the story would generally end there. Because preventing or stopping anti-competitive behaviour may not always demonstrate a direct, immediate and visible effect in the consumers’ eyes in most of the cases, the cries from society, if any, are not as loud as the cries against corruption.
Thus these two regulatory areas, convergent in their aims, are perceived in divergent fashions by society. This essay delves into the reasons behind such divergence and suggests that among the reasons for this differentiation are the premises that these fields also differ in their consequences, in their enforcement styles, leading to different moral perceptions, and in the visibility of their consequences.Business Law Review