Clearing the Cobwebs: The Antitrust Division Takes Steps to Review and Terminate Legacy Judgments

Division Update Spring 2018

As part of a larger effort to streamline and improve the Antitrust Division’s use of consent decrees, the Division has identified nearly 1,300 longstanding judgments still in effect, some over 100 years old. These perpetual decrees predate a Division policy, adopted nearly 40 years ago, setting the standard term of its consent decrees at 10 years. In enacting that policy, the Division recognized that markets and competition rarely remain stagnant even for that long; therefore, perpetual judgments are not in the public interest.

Since that time, all of the Division’s consent decrees have had an express term. However, any judgments entered before that time, including any dating back to the enactment of the Sherman Act in 1890, may still exist on courts’ dockets. The Division is currently reviewing these perpetual decrees and addressing any that no longer serve the public interest and are appropriate for termination.

Updated April 10, 2018

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