Our team of experts is able to offer expert competition law advice, provided in a clear and concise manner and in the context of assisting you in achieving your commercial goals.
It is essential that your commercial agreements comply with competition law. At the same time, you need to ensure that your interests are properly protected; which can be a fine balancing act.
If you are bringing a product to market, then we can assist you not only on your individual distribution agreements, but also on your whole distribution strategy. Is your distribution model suitable for what you want to achieve and for dealing with the threats you face? These are questions that go to the heart of protecting your business. The nuances of competition law mean that you may be able to better address your concerns by using a particular type of distribution model. We believe that something as fundamental as this is worth exploring and that our clients should be aware of their options.
Competition laws do not apply only to distribution agreements and can apply to any forms of agreements. In addition to distribution agreements, networks and strategies, we are also able to advise on all other aspects of competition law, including:
- Technology license agreements – including ensuring compliance with the Technology Transfer Regulations.
- The internet – including your policy towards internet traders.
- Pricing policies.
- Abuse of a dominant position – including issues concerning exclusivity, tying, foreclosure and refusals to supply.
- Research and development agreements.
- Cartel activity.
- Joint ventures
- Advising on the competition law implications in relation to a pan-European contract relating to smart metres.
- Advising a well known brand with international presence on merger control requirements
- Advising a well-known international brand on competition law requirements (including with regards to VABE) in relation to its commercial contracts, including exclusivity arrangements.
Competition law FAQs
Are there penalties if my business breaches competition laws?
There are potentially heavy fines for infringements along with many other repercussions. Offenders can be fined or directors can be disqualified. In certain instances offenders can be sent to prison. By reviewing your potential transaction or proposed contract we are able to advise you what your potential risk is regarding competition law breached. We will assist you in limiting your liability from a from a competition law perspective and as far as legally possible. Our aim is to provide you with as much protection as possible or flag what the worst-case scenario would look like.
Is my business too small to be caught by competition laws?
Businesses often assume that they wont be subject to competition law investigations based on the size of the business but this is not true. There have been many instances of the CMA investigating local businesses for alleged competition law breaches. There are some “safe harbours” which do take into account market share of businesses but they don’t always apply and there are competition law breaches where market size is irrelevant. Therefore in many instances, businesses will not be too small to be caught.
What can cause competition law breaches?
Anti-competitive agreements – if you enter into an agreement which may affect trade within the UK which aims or effects the restriction, prevention or distortion of competition within the UK.
Abuse of market power – if you have a monopoly for the provision of a service in a local area for e.g. provision of a bus service and you abuse your market power by unfair pricing you may fall foul of the law.
Cartel offences – Two competing companies enter into dishonest agreements to fix prices or share markets or rig bids.
Mergers – In addition to the above, there is a separate regime which applies to mergers of businesses. A merger may be investigated if two or more enterprises “cease to be distinct” and the result is the creation or enhancement of a market share of 25% or more in the UK or substantial part of the UK or the enterprise being taken over has a 25% or more share of supply before the merger.
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