Public Law

On Tuesday of last week Mark Clough QC and Charles Livingstone gave a seminar in Glasgow on competition compliance. This was the first of a two-part session, the initial focus being on what obligations a business has under competition law and the potential pitfalls of falling foul of those obligations. The second session will build upon the first but will take the form of a workshop looking at the risks in practice for businesses.

The risks of failing to comply with competition law can be seen only too well when looking at the BA fine for the price-fixing of fuel surcharges on long-haul passenger flights. This is just one of a number of high profile fines for anti-competitive activity in recent years. The fine imposed on BA by the OFT totalled a staggering £121.5m while its co-conspirator, Virgin, received no fine after whistleblowing on the arrangement. Virgin however did not escape scot-free after a class action was brought in the US on behalf of individuals who suffered loss as a result.

This issue provoked some interesting questions in Tuesday’s seminar around how many other countries have competition laws and what affect that has on a businesses risk assessment for compliance. One of the questions was whether Saudi Arabia has a competition regime. We can confirm that indeed it does along with approximately over 100 other countries. The reality is that if a company operates internationally it could be subjected to investigations by a number of Member States where the anti-competitive activity has had an effect. The European Commission has of course created rules around how investigations should be dealt with and it will generally take control where more than three Member States have been affected but this will not bind countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia. Neither will this prevent private damages actions being brought in other jurisdictions where the effects of the anti-competitive activity have been felt.

An effective competition compliance programme can therefore be invaluable to businesses so come along to our next session in May to find out more, the details for which can be found here.