In the absence of competition, businesses have little incentive to win customers over. Therefore, the federal government and states use antitrust laws to discourage certain mergers and acquisitions that may give them a grossly unfair advantage. This is a way of keeping large business entities (monopolies or trusts) from dominating market share and thus stifling competition.
Generally, antitrust regulations prevent large mergers that their respective state attorneys believe may hurt consumers by limiting choice. Illinois antitrust laws are encoded in the Illinois Antitrust Act, which complements federal antitrust laws, which are encoded in the Sherman Act and Clayton Act. Federal antitrust laws generally prohibit any conspiracy or concerted effort to restrain trade, while also limiting the ability of large corporations to make acquisitions that would severely limit competition.
The Sherman Act imposes a steep fine ($100,000,000 if a corporation) and possible 10-year prison sentence for an illegal "trust... or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce." Passage of the Clayton Act, meanwhile, created the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for reviewing complaints and approving corporate mergers. See FTC's Guide to Antitrust Laws to learn more about federal statutes and enforcement measures.
Under Illinois law, a private lawsuit may be filed against a party for alleged antitrust violation at the same time a federal action is pending. The state typically allows aggrieved parties to file suit for fraud.
However, the state's Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act may be invoked for antitrust lawsuits involving real estate. Illinois antitrust laws allow plaintiffs to bring private lawsuits against companies and also make it possible to recover attorneys' fees. This is not a right reserved for plaintiffs in every state, mind you.
The table below highlights the main provisions of Illinois antitrust laws. See FindLaw's Business Regulations section to learn more.
|Antitrust Code Section||Illinois Antitrust Act: Ch. 740 §10/1, et seq.|
|Is a Private Lawsuit Possible?||Yes|
|Time Limit to Bring Claim||4 yrs.|
|Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover Attorneys' Fees?||Yes|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- you should carefully conduct your own legal research to verify the specific state statute at play in your jurisdiction. Better yet, to ensure you follow the letter of the law, contact an Illinois antitrust attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.