Antitrust compliance programmes can be a useful tool for preventing competition law issues.
Corporate antitrust compliance programmes are programmes whereby companies express their commitment to certain rules and to the values or objectives on which they are based.
Compliance programmes may deal with a number of issues (corruption, tax law, consumer health and safety). Certain of these rules expose companies to financial or criminal penalties as well as to adverse effects on their reputation and to risks of private litigation. This is particularly true in the antitrust field, where victims of an anticompetitive agreement or an abuse of a dominant position are legally enabled to seek damages.
The French Competition Authority (FCA) expressed its views on antitrust compliance programmes in its Framework Document of 10 February 2012, whereby it encourages economic players that do not yet have compliance programmes in place to set up such programmes, and it provides a list of interesting “best practices” that can contribute to the efficiency of such programmes.
It considers that an effective competition law compliance programme should combine learning measures with supervisory, control and punishment systems.
The FCA deems that compliance programmes, in order to be effective, must seek two objectives: firstly, prevent the risk of committing infringements and, secondly, provide the means of detecting and handling incidents of misconduct that have not been avoided in the first place.
The Framework Document can be consulted here