Competition Law and Consumer Law: Identifying the Contours in Light of the Case of Belaire Owners Association v. DLF
Jenisha Parikh & Kashmira Majumdar*
Volume 5 Issue 2 (2012)
Recent events suggest that the near-automatic consequence of being a dominant firm in a profitable market is abuse of that position by resorting to the imposition of unfair terms and conditions in standard contracts. Ostensibly, this may seem to be a consumer law problem due to the ‘unfairness’ of the conditions involved but such practices also have an impact on competition in the market, which justifies antitrust scrutiny too. The forum to which the matter is taken influences the relief. This paper analyses the interface between competition law and consumer law in the theoretical framework and through the non-uniform understanding of ‘consumer welfare’ that informs both. This framework outlines the nature of such cases and reinforces the idea that a consumer law problem can be problematic for competition in the market too. Through the case study of Belaire Owners Association v. DLF, this paper seeks to identify the most appropriate regulatory tool between the two laws that would sufficiently regulate such market failures. It concludes that though both competition law scrutiny and consumer law intervention are justified, the question is with respect to their sufficiency. In this context, an analysis of the source of such market failure helps in identifying the correct remedy, which this paper argues, is consumer law.