In August 2012, the OECD published a paper as a follow-up to its June 2011 roundtable on promoting compliance with competition law. This is of interest to anybody involved with competition law compliance within a business worldwide.
The paper includes an executive summary of the debate, which considered a range of issues, including how competition compliance can fit with other compliance topics which a business must deal with. However, probably of most interest are the written submissions from over 20 competition authorities around the world, including those of Germany, Japan, Korea, the UK, the U.S., the EU, Russia and Turkey. These contributions cover in a very useful summary format each authority’s views on the relevance of competition compliance, how they promote it and related issues.
One issue which continues to attract interest is whether a compliance programme should be relevant to fine setting. The UK Office of Fair Trading contribution, to take one example, makes the point that it supports compliance programmes by, in appropriate circumstances, allowing a reduction in the fine for a breach of competition law where a suitable compliance programme was or is put in place. This was formalized in the OFT’s September 2012 guidance on how it will set fines for breaches of competition law. This position is far from universally held, with the European Commission a leading proponent of the opposite view. It continues with its long-held position that the existence or otherwise of a compliance programme is not relevant to the level of a fine that it may set for an infringement of EU competition law.