All businesses, large and small, need to understand the restrictions within which they must operate in order to stay “on the right side of the law”. Appreciating where your business sits in relation to competition law is an important part of that understanding.
The potential costs of defending your business against allegations of an infringement of competition law and the fines for a failed defence against any such allegations can be highly significant. In the light of criminal prosecutions and director disqualification orders, directors and employees are very much in the firing line. In addition, damages claims from affected parties are becoming ever more prevalent.
Competition law compliance risks vary from industry to industry with certain sectors being particularly prone to cartel activity.
Many, if not most, businesses stray into compliance infringements as a consequence of commercial decisions which, in isolation, appear appropriate to the commercial dynamics of the market. Executives may inadvertently expose their companies to a wide range of competition law compliance issues – we can ensure that your risks in this complex and dangerous legal field are kept to a minimum.
The impact of competition law on distribution and sales arrangements between manufacturers/brand owners, distributors/wholesalers, and retailers, cannot be under-estimated, particularly in the world of online sales to consumers across the EU, and the methods used to protect brand positions.
Our lawyers regularly advise on both domestic and European competition law. Many of our clients have business arrangements which involve them entering into agreements with commercial partners in the EU and beyond. Our lawyers are used to dealing with the cross jurisdictional issues which these arrangements can generate.
On the other side of the coin, clients may believe that their suppliers or competitors are acting in breach of competition law, and we can advise on appropriate steps to be taken with the Competition and Markets Authority, the Competition Commission, or the offending party directly, to seek redress or the cessation of the offending action.
Examples of the advice we provide in this area includes sector specific advice on the following:
- Advising clients on the risk of abuse of dominant market position.
- Advising trade associations on their constitutions, policies, procedures and activities.
- Advising manufacturers/brand owners, distributors and retailers on restrictive arrangements in distribution, agency, sales and purchasing agreements.
- Advising clients on lawful collaboration, joint venturing and joint bidding arrangements in competitive bid tender processes.
- Advising clients on the competition law/merger control aspects of business acquisitions and mergers.
- Advising clients on their response to investigations (including dawn raids) by competition authorities.
- Advising clients on technology, research and development (technology transfer) and collaboration arrangements.