By Simon Robinson
Fixing prices and allocating markets and shares of product is a bad idea. It can lead you and your company into serious legal problems; you may even go to prison warned Professor Filip Tuytschaever, advocaat, or lawyer, of Contrast, a firm of legal professionals, speaking at the recent EuroPUR meeting in Madrid.
Tuytschaever, whoes firm specialises in European and business law said companies needed all of their staff to avoid eight types of behaviour to reduce their risk from competition law by about 90%.
Tuytschaever warned that breaches of the law can lead to heavy administrative and criminal fines at the national and European level. At the European level, the administrative fines can be 10% of the worldwide turnover of the companies involved. Individuals can also face fines if they are found guilty of participation. In Belgium, these are fairly modest at €10,000 maximum, in the Netherlands the maximum is €450,000, in the UK and Republic of Ireland individuals can face imprisonment if convicted of anti-competitive activity.
In addition to the reputational damage that companies operating schemes to control markets face, their contracts may be legally unenforceable, he added.
There is also the possibility that companies– and possibly individuals –that feel they may have suffered at the hands of market manipulators may take them to the civil courts. If this happens in the US, often by way of class actions, then fines can be very high…