The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a short checklist of dos and don’ts for businesses to consider when setting up and managing joint ventures or other forms of collaboration.
Joint ventures are typically considered under both merger control rules and rules relating to restrictive agreements. The CMA guidance provides businesses and their advisors with useful insights, which will help them assess the legality under competition law of any collaboration with a competitor. The guidance can be found here.
The guidance follows the CMA’s decision to fine two suppliers of cleanroom laundry services, used by businesses as well as the National Health Service, £1.7 million for agreeing to share the market under cover of a joint venture and trade mark licensing agreement. The investigation was not a result of a leniency application or consumer complaint or market study, but instead came to the attention of the CMA in the course of two related merger reviews. This shows how scrutiny of merger notifications can trigger investigations into wider commercial conduct under competition law.