Competition Law Compliance Statement
The Committee of the Collective Redress Lawyers Association (“CORLA” or the “Association”), has adopted the following policy to ensure that all the activities of the Association are in compliance with UK and European competition laws.
CORLA’s role is to promote and champion the role of group litigation and class actions before the courts of England and Wales as an important mechanism for providing effective access to justice for claimants for whom the pursuit of individual claims would be impracticable or disproportionate.
It is the Association’s policy to comply with UK and European competition laws in letter and spirit and it is a requirement of membership to the Association to confirm compliance with this policy.
This statement should be regarded as a tool which raises awareness to promote and support compliance with competition law but it is general in nature and cannot anticipate every legal issue or fact pattern that might be faced by CORLA or its members. Therefore, it may be appropriate that individuals consult the CORLA President (or Co-President) or Vice President, when questions arise as to the application of this policy.
Please note that CORLA will regularly facilitate meetings and events between members and other organisations involved at each level of the group litigation and class action supply chain in pursuance of our legitimate interests as a representative body of the industry. Discussions at these meetings should be open and conducted in accordance with this statement.
Members acknowledge that the role of CORLA in respect of industry meetings and events is to act as a neutral facilitator of discussions on issues affecting the industry as a whole. Unless expressly confirmed in writing, CORLA does not take ownership of, or responsibility for, any individual or collective decision or action that may be made and / or agreed between members, whether in attendance at a meeting or event organised by CORLA or otherwise.
Overview of the law
UK and EU competition laws prohibit arrangements (including information exchange) between undertakings and decisions by associations of undertakings, which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition. In particular, they prohibit practices which include:
- Directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices;
- Limiting or controlling the provision of services, markets, technical development or investment; and
- Sharing markets and/or customers.
UK and EU competition laws also prohibit any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position.
The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) is the main regulator and enforcer of competition law in the UK, responsible for investigating potential breaches of competition law. Penalties for breaching competition law are severe, and include:
- fines of up to 10% of global turnover;
- contracts being considered null and void, which means they cannot be enforced;
- criminal liability punishable by imprisonment and / or fines (this extends to individuals involved in cartel activity);
- disqualification of directors;
- reputational damage; and
- lengthy and costly regulatory investigations.
Due to the severity of the potential sanctions which may be enforced as a result of a breach of competition law, it is of utmost importance that any member of CORLA suspecting any potentially anti-competitive behaviour reports this to the Committee of CORLA as soon as possible.
Specific guidance for CORLA members
The following guidance is provided to CORLA members to help ensure that meetings and activities of CORLA members do not lead to breaches of UK and European competition laws and in particular no competitively sensitive information is exchanged. This policy applies before, during and after formal meetings, informal meetings, events and presentations (“CORLA Interactions”). Please keep in mind that UK and European competition laws are complex and that this policy does not cover all contingencies.
Matters which should never be discussed with competitors in the context of CORLA:
Except as may be necessary for the purposes of running litigation, do not have formal or informal discussions relating to:
- Prices or any element of price, including any matters affecting price such as discounts, success fees, CFA terms, chargeout rates, price changes, price differentials, profit margins, price mark- ups, credit or other terms of business;
- your costs, including any cost components such as production or distribution costs, cost accounting formulas, methods of computing costs;
- terms and conditions on which you supply services to your customers;
- allocation of services, customers, markets, territories, or sales;
- refusals to purchase from, or modification of purchase arrangements with, suppliers.
- individual company’s confidential future plans, including future plans relating to target markets, marketing strategy, investment plans or technology; and/or
- matters relating to individual suppliers, service providers or clients.
Always be cautious in the presence of competitors even in informal social situations.
The above list is by way of example only and not exhaustive. If you are ever in doubt you should seek legal advice.