On 3 October 2019 Leah Peeters, a paralegal at Maverick Advocaten, won the award for best thesis in the Netherlands in the field of European/national competition law at the Jaarcongres Ontwikkelingen Mededingingsrecht (Annual Conference on Developments in Competition Law). Stichting Ontwikkelingen Mededingingsrecht awards prizes every year to theses of excellent academic quality, based on the originality of the design and the research method and the contribution to legal development and legal practice.
Leah wrote her thesis on the competition law protection of self-employed persons. Her thesis focused on self-employed persons who operate on digital platforms. The key research topic was why the Dutch cartel prohibition stands in the way of protection of self-employed persons against exploitation in a developing platform economy and what solution Article 101 of the TFEU might offer to adequately solve that problem.
Leah arrived at the following conclusion. Whereas competition law focuses on the protection of consumer welfare and applies to companies, employment law focuses on employee protection and therefore applies to employees. The objectives of competition law and employment law clash in the field of collective bargaining agreements: whereas employment law allows employees to enter into collective bargaining agreements, competition law prohibits self-employed persons from doing the same. Self-employed persons therefore cannot enter into collective bargaining agreements to agree on a minimum wage and to improve their employment conditions. Self-employed persons consequently run the risk of poverty.
Leah’s research has identified possible solutions currently offered by competition law to allow self-employed persons to enter into collective bargaining agreements. It demonstrates that existing case law, the exception in Article 101(3) of the TFEU, the Wouters doctrine and the exception in Article 7 of the Dutch Competition Law do not offer platform workers means of entering into collective bargaining agreements. A new interpretation of the current legal system regarding the protection of platform workers is therefore required.
We are proud of Leah’s excellent achievement!