May 27, 2020
McGuireWoods London partner Matthew Hall wrote an article in the spring 2020 ABA Compliance and Ethics Committee Newsletter about antitrust/competition law guidance for EU and UK business cooperation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Because EU and UK businesses may need to cooperate with competitors or potential competitors in response to the crisis, the European Commission has published detailed guidance on how it will apply EU competition law to competitor cooperation. The UK Competition and Markets Authority also has published its own guidance on how it will apply competition law in the UK.
Hall, a member of the firm’s Antitrust, Trade & Commercial Litigation practice, wrote that “the temporary statutory exemptions are extremely important within the areas they cover, but careful analysis is needed before they are relied upon.” He cited difficulties for companies trying to interpret the specific conditions outlined in these exemptions and the general guidance.
“Each company is responsible for assessing the legality of its agreements and practices. While some additional cooperation with competitors may be acceptable during the crisis, they still must proceed with care and heed legal advice,” he wrote. “Competition law continues to apply and the existence of an economic crisis does not justify anti-competitive behavior.”