The OFT has recently published guidance for businesses on compliance with competition law (the Guidance). As part of its policy to actively promote compliance programmes, the OFT has said that it will take into account a business’s compliance efforts when setting the level of penalty for competition law infringements. A key feature of the Guidance is that it emphasises that a successful approach to competition compliance is based on ‘top-down’ commitment from senior management. The Guidance acknowledges that “the majority of businesses wish to comply with competition law” and suggests a four step process for helping businesses achieve this goal. These measures include:
- Identifying risks – early detection of competition law risks such as cartel behaviour, abuse of dominance (depending on the nature and size of the business);
- Risk assessment – working out how relatively serious risks are (e.g. high, medium or low) and which staff have the greatest exposure to competition compliance risk and ensuring they are aware of their compliance obligations;
- Risk mitigation – establish suitable measures to address the risk such as compliance training, documented policies and daily procedures and other measures designed to create a culture of compliance;
- Review – regular review of risks and measures taken to address them to ensure that these remain appropriate as the nature of the business and the market evolves.