(Adds details on judgments being proposed to terminate, quote, background)
WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday it plans to seek court approval to terminate "outdated" antitrust judgments that remain on the books throughout the United States.
The government said there are nearly 1,300 “legacy” judgments remaining on the books of its Antitrust Division, and nearly all likely remain open in U.S. courts. The Justice Department said the "majority of these judgments no longer protect competition because of changes in industry conditions, changes in economics, changes in law, or for other reasons."
The government is reviewing all of those judgments to determine "whether each judgment continues to serve competition," but has already identified "many judgments that it likely will seek to terminate unilaterally after a public comment period." The Justice Department posted a initial list of 26 judgments it plans to seek approval to terminate - all dating back to 1981 or earlier.
One 1978 judgment the government wants terminated involves Pan American World Airways, Trans World Airlines and Lufthansa German Airlines - now known as Deutsche Lufthansa AG - which settled allegations they conspired to fix the price of airfare to travel between the United States and Germany by U.S. military personnel and their dependents. Pan Am and TWA no longer exist as independent airlines.
Since 1979, the Justice Department has adopted the general practice of including sunset provisions that automatically terminate judgments, usually 10 years from entry.
"We are taking a first step toward freeing American businesses, taxpayers, and consumers from the burden of judgments that no longer protect competition,” Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. "We will pursue the termination of outdated judgments around the country that presently do little more than clog court dockets, create unnecessary uncertainty for businesses or, in some cases, may actually elicit anticompetitive market conditions." (Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)