The UK competition watchdog has recently published a range of business
friendly guidelines on its website, designed to provide so called "quick" guidelines
for UK companies to enable them to adhere to, and take advantage of, the UK
and EC competition rules. The brochures will be particularly useful for small
and medium sized undertakings.
The guidelines cove the following topics:
This guideline contains a short summary of the laws on anti-competitive behaviour.
It explains the Chapter I and II prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and
Article 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, and the relationship between the two regimes.
It also informs you about how to make a complaint if you suspect that a competitor
is breaching competition law.
How your business can achieve compliance
As the punishment of breaching competition law can be severe, ensuring that
you observe the rules is of the utmost importance to you and your business.
This may mean putting a compliance programme in place. As a starting point
this brochure gives you instructions on what you can do to promote compliance
in your organisation. It outlines four essentials that the OFT considers necessary
in an effective compliance programme.
This brochure will be valuable for training purposes and more acutely for
any company that is finding itself the target of a current OFT investigation.
It explains what to do in the event of a dawn raid and the extent of the watchdog's
Cartels and the Competition Act 1998
This guide emphasises the importance of private enforcement of competition
law and seeks to encourage businesses to come forward if they suspect that
something illegal is going on in the market they operate. Buyers, both in public
and private sectors, who might be dealing with a cartel member are prompted
to come forward to the watchdog. The brochure indicates anticompetitive features
that a company should be vigilant of.
Leniency in cartel cases
Not only is it the company which is at risk financially by engaging in cartel
activities. The Enterprise Act 2002 criminalises such behaviour which means
that also individuals who are involved may be fined and/or sent to jail if
The OFT is ready to offer protection under its leniency programme to companies
involved in illegal agreements who come forward and whistle-blow. This might
mean a reduction or a full waving of the fine. Likewise, individuals may benefit
from immunity in return for information.