31 March 2015
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a quick guide on competition law for company secretaries.
The CMA, in recognising the importance of the company secretary in advising boards on their corporate responsibilities and regulatory risks, has directed the guidance specifically towards this profession.
The guide on competition law risk details the main anti-competitive practices for companies to be aware of. The guide also includes questions about identifying business risk, such as: whether employees often talk to other businesses in the same sector; whether you collaborate or work in partnership with your competitors; whether your customers also your competitors; and whether you are a business with a large share of the market in which you operate.
The guide also outlines what company secretaries can do to ensure an effective compliance strategy is in place: ensure a culture of compliance is embedded into the values and behaviours of the business, from the top down; raise the topic of competition law at board level to make sure all understand the risks of not complying; and know where to go if you think your business has broken the law: the CMA operates a leniency programme for those that confess their involvement in a cartel. If certain conditions are met, a business could receive immunity from fines and sanctions.
The CMA has added that breaching competition law can result in companies being fined up to 10% of their global turnover and their directors may be disqualified from acting as company directors for up to 15 years. Involvement in a cartel is also a criminal offence and individuals can go to prison for up to five years.