Law360 quoted Washington, D.C., antitrust partner Jonathan Lewis in a March 1 story about a federal court ruling in Utah. The decision clarifies the legal standard that applies in a criminal antitrust case involving companies that locate and assist heirs to unclaimed estates.
The story noted that U.S. District Judge David Sam granted the government’s request to reverse a previous finding that an alleged customer allocation agreement between so-called heir-tracking firms should not be considered a per se violation of the Sherman Act. The Justice Department pursues criminal antitrust cases only against per se violations.
Lewis told Law360 that companies and executives need clear guidance about the type of conduct that could expose them to criminal liability.
“You want to have bright line rules when people are subject to criminal prosecutions,” he said. “When you think about business conduct, you want to know up front what you're exposing yourself to before you engage in certain conduct.”
Lewis added that the antitrust bar generally recognizes the types of conduct courts will deem per se violations and the DOJ is confident in its cases when it pursues criminal prosecutions. “They're not in the business of pushing the envelope and losing,” he said.