About LLM in Competition Law with its coordinator Václav Šmejkal
What can students expect from the new Competition LAW course in the LL.M. programme?
Competition law is a dynamic and increasingly popular area of law. This is not only because the propensity of companies to engage in cartel behaviour or abuse of dominance has been the same since Adam Smith wrote about it. Today, it is above all the massive development of the digital economy, with its global networks and Big data, as well as the extraordinary role of Big tech companies such as Google, Meta, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, to which competition protection must respond. Thus, a student of the LLM in Competition Law can expect both to master the "classic antitrust" and to learn about those new components of antitrust that are influencing the latest trends in today's global economy. In short, graduates will gain insight into regulation, the knowledge of which is increasingly in demand in law firms, in government and, above all, of course, in businesses. And last but not least, when the student passes all the exams, he or she will receive an LLM degree from good old Charles University.
Is the LL.M. in Competition Law course taught as standard at law schools? If they teach the LL.M. course or is it an exceptional phenomenon?
Traditionally, LLM courses are seen as a kind of specialisation after the completion of standard law studies. Their greatest tradition is of course in the Anglo-Saxon world, but in recent decades they have also become well established in universities in continental Europe, so far mostly in the north-west of the Czech Republic. Thus, there are several LLMs specialized in competition law in EU countries, but as far as I know, none in the CEE region so far. In this we are the first as Charles University and we will strive to confirm this leadership in the future in terms of quality, interest and friendly atmosphere of our LLM programme.
Does the Faculty of Law of Charles University cooperate with other universities around the world in teaching LL.M. courses?
In the LLM in Competition Law, we were of course inspired abroad. Benchmarking has shown that, in principle, LLM courses at different universities are comparable. After all, it is actually the EU's "federal" competition law on which national competition regimes were modelled, and in the early days even that European "federal" competition law was heavily influenced by the American model. So the similarity of the basic structure and focus of the courses is inevitable. We differ mainly in the range of elective specialisations offered. In preparation, we consulted with several experts outside the Czech Republic who gave us feed-back on our project. However, for the time being, visiting professors will not be included in the teaching as a standard. We are at the beginning, and we hope that the space and means to regularly invite foreign experts to our courses will be created gradually. In short, we must first demonstrate that the new LLM in Competition Law is academically sound, well organised and financially sustainable. Then, as an established brand, we hope to be able to invite competition stars from abroad as lecturers.
What are the main areas of competition law covered by the new course? Which professions (law sectors) can benefit from the course?
Classically, all 4 pillars of EU competition law are covered: cartel agreements, abuse of dominance, merger control and state aid control. We try to be EU-standard in this respect, although of course we do not refer exclusively to EU competition law, but also to the law of its Member States and to the practice of the cradle of antitrust - the USA. In addition to the compulsory courses, we also offer elective courses, which are specifically focused on competition in e.g. network industries, pharmaceuticals or, for example, the protection of fundamental rights or IPR in competition and some other issues. I invite all those interested in the detailed content of the LLM in Competition Law to visit the description on our Law School website.
Could you briefly describe the course guarantors?
The LLM in Competition Law is certainly not exclusively academic in background and focus. While I am an academic myself as the main coordinator of the programme and find both the theory and history of competition law to be exciting disciplines and enduring topics for thought and discussion, other modules obviously predominate in the composition of the LLM programme. These focus on the application of competition law in practice and are taught by experts from the Czech Competition Authority as well as by attorneys from leading law firms specialising in competition cases. Thus, in the course of their studies, students will meet not only academics, but also competition regulators and their opponents representing companies in competition proceedings.
The course is a three-semester programme with full-time study and in English? How many credits must a student get?
The programme corresponds to 90 ECTS credits, 60 of which must be successfully obtained by completing individual courses and the rest by writing and defending a thesis on the chosen topic. The only language of instruction and communication is English. From the beginning, we wanted an international program, not a program narrowly oriented towards a domestic audience. Beyond your question, I would like to add that the teaching is planned in afternoon blocks, so it should allow for parallel employment or other studies, at least in Prague and its surroundings, and, of course, possible commuting to the given block of classes.
What are the conditions of acceptance? Does the applicant have to be a law school graduate? And what are the conditions that the applicant must satisfy during the course?
Yes, the candidate should ideally have at least a Bachelor of Laws degree. Without a basic understanding of legal regulation, many of the issues that will be discussed in the course may be only half-understandable. On the other hand, competition law is in no small part applied economics, and selected legal subjects are now also taught at economics faculties, so we certainly do not reject applications from economics graduates as a matter of principle.