The antitrust risk landscape is shifting. Caught up in the ever-changing priorities of governments and antitrust authorities globally, companies are inadvertently slipping up in the antitrust arena.
Antitrust and associated competition and consumer issues are at the heart of a company's strategy and conduct considerations facing boards. Antitrust contraventions can not only result in significant fines, but can require substantial changes to the way a company operates and interacts with its customers. Competition and consumer law are increasingly interlinked with how companies operate, both from a conduct perspective and how they treat their consumers. This is coming to the fore in the technology sector and is likely to remain an issue for the foreseeable future.
The global enforcement agenda is shifting towards a focus on developing concepts, such as exchanging confidential information and abusing a dominant market position, and your organisation's antitrust risk assessment needs to factor this in. Clifford Chance can help your business develop a strategy to identify relevant antitrust risk and help your business to stay in the clear.
Be clear on antitrust risk
5 questions to ask yourself
Have we elevated antitrust risk to the board?
Is there a dedicated member of the board who considers and deals with antitrust risk? Is there a direct reporting line on this issue to your board? If an investigation was launched by an authority, is your board set up to quickly take decisions to respond to that investigation? Is the board aware of the benefits of making an application for immunity or leniency and the risk of a competitor doing the same?
What is the antitrust risk profile of our business?
Do you know whether there are any areas of your business which are particularly at risk of potential antitrust law breaches? Which business units are most likely to have contact with competitors? Do you have systems in place to monitor compliance with these rules? What proportionate steps can you take to assure the board that your business has a low risk of breaching antitrust rules.
Do we have the appropriate antitrust procedures and training in place?
Your core policies should include training on antitrust risk, particularly when dealing with customers and competitors. Do your employees understand how to deal with an approach from a competitor that may breach antitrust rules? These policies should be revisited regularly to take into account the evolving legal landscape.
Do we know how to deal with a crisis?
If a dawn raid took place tomorrow, who would manage the response to that raid? Do you know what the authorities are and are not entitled to do during a raid? How would you react to a wider crisis that might affect your company’s reputation, such as ongoing involvement in a public investigation?
As our business evolves, do we know how to assess new antitrust risks and opportunities?
As your business moves into new markets or acquires existing businesses, do you have policies in place to assess antitrust risk associated with each business? Are you aware that your parent company may be at risk through the actions of your wholly owned subsidiaries? Do you have ongoing procedures in place to assess this risk?