Reed Smith Client Alerts

  • Having an effective competition compliance culture within an organisation can be the best way to ensure that competition law is effectively followed and its provisions not breached.
  • The approach taken may vary between jurisdictions, but there is general acceptance that having a competition compliance programme is essential.
  • It is paramount that businesses identify, evaluate, monitor, and mitigate risks resulting from anti-competitive activity.

The CMA ‘Cheating or Competing?’ campaign

In February 2020, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a new cartels awareness campaign, ‘Cheating or Competing?’, aimed at creating a greater understanding among businesses so that they fulfil their competition law obligations and appreciate the importance of competition compliance. The focus of the CMA’s campaign is to raise awareness and increase applications for leniency, so that more cartels are brought to the attention of the CMA. The backdrop to the campaign was a 2018 survey of the construction industry, which showed a general lack of awareness and understanding among UK businesses of what constitutes anti-competitive conduct. This CMA survey established that:

  • 22% of companies believed it was not against the law for competitors to agree prices in order to avoid losing money.
  • 6% of senior representatives were familiar with competition law.
  • 29% of senior representatives thought it was acceptable to attend a meeting at which competitors fix prices.
  • 32% thought agreeing not to supply each other’s customers was legal.
  • 25% saw no problem with discussing bids and agreeing who would get which tenders.

Recently, the CMA secured its first contested application for the disqualification of a director whose estate agency breached anti-cartel laws. This underscores the CMA’s commitment to using all of the regulatory tools at its disposal in order to raise greater awareness of competition rules and the consequences of breaching them.