Michelmores welcomes CMA campaign to raise awareness of competition law
Michelmores welcomes the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) campaign to raise awareness of competition law amongst SMEs in the South West. We act for many of the largest companies in the region and have seen several of our clients taking an active interest in training their key staff on all aspects of competition law, including restrictive agreements, cartels and merger control.
The "cartel offence" in particular carries with it the risk of fines, imprisonment of directors and long-term disqualification. In addition, the members of the cartel could face claims – and possibly 'class actions' - for damages from customers and suppliers who can show they were harmed by the breach of competition law. The CMA has been very active in this area since it took the helm from the OFT in April 2014. The new spotlight on smaller companies and the surprising statistics on how little awareness there is, show how much further there is to go.
According to the CMA:
- only 4% of businesses in the south-west had run training sessions on competition law
- only 55% of businesses in the south-west knew that price-fixing is illegal
- only 30% of businesses in the south-west knew that it’s unlawful to set the price at which others can re-sell their product
- only 8% of businesses in the south-west knew that admitting to participation in a cartel can lead to immunity from a penalty
Competition law is a specialist area not well understood by smaller companies, and yet the consequences of breach can be devastating for a small business, with fines large enough to derail a business completely. Ignorance remains no excuse. Our specialist competition and regulatory lawyers will be running a series of webinars and in house seminars to spread our wide experience across the region more effectively.