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Are Bar Associations Anticompetitive? An Empirical Analysis of Recommended Prices for Legal Services in Spain

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  • Ciarreta Antuñano, Aitor
  • Espinosa Alejos, María Paz
  • Zurimendi Isla, Aitor

Abstract

The European Commission Report on Competition in Professional Services found that recommended prices by professional bodies have a significant negative effect on competition since they may facilitate the coordination of prices between service providers and/or mislead consumers about reasonable price levels. Professional associations argue, first, that a fee schedule may help their members to properly calculate the cost of services avoiding excessive charges and reducing consumers’ searching costs and, second, that recommended prices are very useful for cost appraisal if a litigant is condemned to pay the legal expenses of the opposing party. Thus, recommended fee schedules could be justified to some extent if they represented the cost of providing the services. We test this hypothesis using crossâ€section data on a subset of recommended prices by 52 Spanish bar associations and cost data on their territorial jurisdictions. Our empirical results indicate that prices recommended by bar associations are unrelated to the cost of legal services and therefore we conclude that recommended prices have merely an anticompetitive effect.

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Paper provided by University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II in its series DFAEII Working Papers with number 2012-12.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ehu:dfaeii:8765

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Postal: Dpto. de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico II, = Facultad de CC. Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad del País Vasco, Avda. Lehendakari Aguirre 83, 48015 Bilbao, Spain
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Keywords: professional associations; recommended prices; anticompetitive conduct;

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  1. Michele Grillo, 2002. "Collusion and Facilitating Practices: A New Perspective in Antitrust Analysis," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 151-169, September.
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