The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has published the
results of a survey of UK companies identifying the
competition law compliance measures that they adopt.
The results are included in a study published by the OFT
on 7 December 2011. The study considers what drives
businesses to comply with competition law and what deters
them from trying to infringe it (“The impact of competition
interventions on compliance and deterrence” [December 2011;
OFT1391]). The study identifies three key pillars that
drive competition law compliance: knowledge and awareness of
the law, sanctions and enforcement by regulators, and
voluntary compliance measures.
Based on a survey of more than 800 companies in the UK,
the study lists the most common compliance measures used by
businesses. For small companies (fewer than 200 employees),
the top four measures are, in order: taking external legal
advice, carrying out a competition risk assessment, having a
formal competition law code of conduct or compliance
programme, and holding training for employees on competition
law issues. For large companies (200 or more employees), the
top four measures are the same, but the positions of a code
of conduct and training are reversed.
The OFT continually emphasises the importance of
competition law compliance measures, and it has indicated
that it will take these into account when enforcing
competition law against both companies and individuals.
These can (and should) be tailored to the company in
question, but any well-run company will have suitable
measures in place and will continually update and review
these as part of its overall compliance programme. This
approach will reduce the likelihood of employees breaking
the law and therefore help to protect a company against what
the survey finds is the most worrying issue arising out of a
breach, even more worrying than fines – reputational damage
for the company.