The law relating to competition and cartel claims can have a significant impact upon your business, largely in respect of everyday commercial practices and agreements. This can range from public procurement and state aid to mergers and acquisitions. The main thrust of competition law is to protect your business and if an issue arises, quick legal action can help prevent the situation from escalating.
How can competition law protect my enterprise?
This area of law affects a number of commercial sectors, including technology, catering, airline industry, manufacturing, food and drink, and pharmaceutical companies to name but a few. There are two ways of enforcing competition law in the UK – through the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or the European Commission (EC). This can be through both criminal and civil law.
However, there are a number of methods, enabled by competition and cartel law, for business protection, including:
- regulator investigation
- provision to sue if a company is adversely affected
- offering protection from being sued
The role of Oratto in competition and cartel claims
If a situation involving competition or a cartel claim has arisen in your commercial dealings, and you need some advice, contact Oratto today. Oratto has been founded as a web-based platform for linking lawyers with consumers who need specialised legal services. Each of the lawyers featured here is skilled and experienced in cartel and competition claims. Seeking legal advice early on is always advisable in commercial situations and Oratto can connect you with the right solicitor quickly and effectively. Or you can submit your details to us to be matched with the right lawyer for you.
Your chosen competition and cartel law solicitor will have a thorough knowledge of EC anti-competitive activity and how the law regarding this area is applied, particularly in the context of corporate transactions, public procurement, regulator risk and compliance, and commercial dispute resolution. If necessary, your Oratto member lawyer will also be able to deal with international regulators, such as the US Department of Justice, as well as with any circumstances involving civil or criminal immunity. This area of law can be commercially advantageous to a business and your chosen solicitor can help you by clarifying how this may be the case for your enterprise.
Cartel behaviour encompasses:
- customer sharing
- market sharing
- price fixing
- output quotas
The sanctions available through the Cartels and the Competition Act 1998 for those found guilty of cartel behaviour can be punitive and include:
- fines (the CMA can impose fines of up to 10% of the worldwide turnover of an enterprise. )
- damages claims
- imprisonment for certain individuals
- invalidating agreements
The Enterprise Act 2002 also allows for those who have been found guilty of a cartel offence to be imprisoned for up to five years. A director can also be disqualified from holding their position for 15 years.
Helping stamp out cartel behaviour
There are benefits for those who approach the CMA with information regarding UK cartels. If they are the first to come forward, they can be given complete immunity or an application for leniency can be made. If it's the latter then they must exhibit full co-operation, disclose full details and end all involvement with the cartel.
Breaches of UK/EC competition law are taken very seriously and there are robust legal processes in place for any transgressions.
However, there are also appeal options available through the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) which, inter alia, is responsible for hearing appeals regarding the CMA's cartel decisions and those of any applicable concurrent regulators of certain regulated sectors; for example, the electronic communications industry, railways services, and civil aviation..
Private enforcement is also an option for individuals or businesses who have suffered a loss as a direct result of a competition law breach; the key point being that businesses may be sanctioned for the breach and then sued privately by those who suffered a direct loss as a result of the breach. Private actions can be taken all the way to the High Court, giving those affected by breaches of cartel or competition law or anti-competitive activity, fair access to justice.
Contact Oratto today for help and advice in competition and cartel claims.