An Enforcement Official’s Reflections on Antitrust Class Actions

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charged with preventing unfair and
deceptive acts and practices. Its two largest bureaus, of competition and consumer
protection, enforce antitrust and consumer protection laws. The FTC and the U.S.
Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division share federal antitrust enforcement
responsibility, and were they able to deter all law violations there would be little
need for private actions, let alone class actions. Federal enforcers, however, have
not always been successful in achieving optimal deterrence (leaving for another
day just how much deterrence is optimal). Many observers have seen class actions
as having an important role in antitrust enforcement.