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Resolving the Crisis in U.S. Merger Regulation

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Regulation by litigation has driven U.S. merger regulation to crisis. The reliance on private lawsuits to police disclosures and potential conflicts of interest in mergers, takeovers, and other control transactions has resulted in the filing of claims after every major transaction. However, it has failed to achieve meaningful benefits for shareholders and has instead deprived them of potentially valuable rights. Regulation by litigation has devolved into attorney rent-seeking, and the raft of substantive and procedural reforms aimed at resolving the crisis has failed.

There is an alternative to regulation by litigation. Drawing upon the code and panel-based models of merger regulation in the United Kingdom and Ireland, this Article explores whether a regulatory model might be better at protecting shareholder interests in merger transactions. A regulatory alternative holds a number of significant advantages, including greater speed, responsiveness, certainty, and lower administrative costs. In light of these potential advantages, it is remarkable that no U.S. state has experimented with a code and panel-based model of merger regulation. We explain the persistent difference between the U.S. and Anglo-Irish models by reference to interest group politics and, in particular, the power of the bar to influence corporate law reforms in the United States.

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