In the previous episode of this series, Mayer Brown JSM discussed the implications of group boycotts against competitors. Now that Colin is satisfied that all his questions have been answered, he begins to think about the next steps…
Colin: Alright, I think I am ready to return to my HR practice and work on a competition compliance policy. Any tips from you?
Mayer Brown JSM: To recap, when conducting an internal compliance review, be particularly vigilant of any agreement or arrangement that has the object or effect of fixing wages, preventing solicitation of employees from competitors, or boycotting competitors. Avoid unnecessary contact with competitors, whether formal or informal, where there is a risk that commercially sensitive information may be exchanged. When such exchanges are inevitable, consult your legal advisers first – they may be able to help you find a legally compliant solution to achieve the same purpose without having to disclose commercially sensitive information to a competitor. Remember that an actual agreement is not required for the behaviour to be considered anti-competitive, a one-way disclosure or tacit acknowledgment could just as likely land you in trouble.
There are many facets of competition law that may affect HR matters. Due to the unique nature of each position, business and industry, different legal standards may apply. As such, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when preparing a competition compliance policy and you should seek the assistance of your legal advisers in preparing the most appropriate and commercially sensible compliance policy for your business.
The Competition Ordinance will likely come into operation by mid-2015, so now is the time to start preparing.