Two new whistleblowing measures have raised the risk of EU regulators identifying anti-competitive behaviour. Following this, and perhaps reflecting an awareness of increased risk, Brussels-based trade association Business Europe has published competition compliance material for its members.
On 16 March 2017, the European Commission introduced an anonymous whistleblower tool for competition law infringements. The new tool protects whistleblowers' anonymity through a specifically designed encrypted messaging system that allows two-way communications. The service is run by a specialised external service provider that acts as an intermediary, and which relays only the content of received messages without forwarding any metadata that could be used to identify the individual providing the information.
Separately, on 20 March 2017, the CMA launched an advertising campaign aimed at encouraging individuals to blow the whistle on cartels. The campaign “Cracking down on Cartels” offers a reward of up to £100,000 as well as promising anonymity. The cash reward for individuals is not in fact new, but this is the CMA’s first such advertising campaign.
Business Europe’s documents are a guide promoting competition law compliance in the EU and a document promoting alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for antitrust damages claims.
The compliance guide consists of two parts. Part 1 outlines the key elements and principles of competition law at EU and EU member state levels. Part 2 describes how companies can implement competition law awareness in their organizations. The ADR document promotes out-of-court settlement of competition law damages claims, bearing in mind that “private actions for damages in general (and not just class/collective actions) are likely to be more frequent than has been the case until today.”