IFLR Competition Law Forum

On Tuesday we sponsored the IFLR Competition Law Forum on Strategies for ensuring a competition compliant culture across the organisation.

We were joined by an esteemed panel including a representative from the Competition & Markets Authority and lawyers from leading businesses.

The key points that Iain Larkins (chair of panel) took from the session were:

What’s the CMA doing?

  • The CMA is continuing the OFT’s efforts to increase awareness of competition law, particularly with the use of simple guides. These are available on the CMA website.
  • The one page guide on information exchange and the ‘compliance wheel’ received particular praise.
  • CMA will maximise its return on investment. Where it has had a success, it will use this to flag key information relevant to the sector. See public notices CMA issued following truck industry case.
  • The CMA has an objective of bringing a £10 benefit for every £1 spent.
  • CMA has issued a consultation document setting out its 2015 plans. You are invited to respond.
  • There is concern about the draconian measures that are available to the CMA. In particular, the changes made in April this year which removed the dishonesty requirement for cartel offences.

Building effective compliance programmes.

  • Effective training programmes – need to be tailored.
  • A compliance programme that is just ‘lip service’ may be worse than having no compliance programme.
  • If you are starting out on the compliance journey – it may be best to start at the end with dawn raid training. This can be good for getting attention and then work backwards. We have a dawn raid programme available on our website (built from personal experience).
  • Think carefully about training programmes. Is your expert competition lawyer able to present in an engaging way? Are your training materials technically perfect, but not read by anyone?
  • Tone from the top:
    • Big memorable statements from CEO endorsing competition law programme can be valuable;
    • BUT ensure your senior people will also ‘walk the talk’.
  • Stories from those that have experienced it first-hand are very valuable. Keith Packer’s (former BA director) story of ending up in jail gets people’s attention.
  • Whistle blowing lines – is your line fit for purpose? Would your employees use it? Would they know where to find the number?
  • Other top tips:
    • Establish a compliance council for sensitive competition issues e.g. rebate programmes;
    • Train competition law champions – perhaps finance controllers that see a lot of the detail of your business;
    • Use auditors already in the business to help audit the effectiveness of the compliance programme but ensure they are careful about what they put in writing.
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