Speaking to people from rival businesses in your industry may seem like a normal, everyday thing to do. And for most it’s a perfectly innocent and necessary part of business life. But, if you find yourself talking shop with a direct competitor, are you sure you know what is and isn’t safe to discuss?
You aren’t alone if you’re unsure. According to new research from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) the majority (77%) of businesses still don’t understand competition law well and very few (6%) run any competition law training.
Breaking competition law can happen in different ways but some of the most serious ones are also the least understood. Business cartels can include activity such as price fixing, market sharing or bid-rigging but many still don’t recognise how little it takes to end up involved in these practices.
CMA research reveals some dangerous misunderstandings:
• 41% don’t know attending a meeting where rivals agree prices is illegal
• Over half (59%) don’t know that agreeing to split up and share customers with competitors is illegal
• Just under half (48%) don’t know that bid-rigging – where competing bidders secretly agree who will win a contract and submit fake bids – is illegal.
These misconceptions should ring alarm bells because the consequences of breaking the law are serious, damaging businesses as well as an individual’s personal career.
To help businesses better understand the law, the CMA is running its ‘Stop Cartels’ campaign to raise awareness of cartels, how to spot and report them.
If you think you may have been involved in a cartel then it’s better to be safe, not sorry and report it to the CMA first, as you may benefit from immunity from fines and prosecution if you report before others do.
If you think you’ve witnessed others breaking the law, do what’s right and report it in confidence, you may benefit from a financial reward. Go to: www.gov.uk/stopcartels where you’ll find:
• Short videos that explain what cartels are and how to report them
• Case studies of other businesses who broke the law
• An online quiz: test how much you know about competition law and cartels
• A cartel checker so you can understand whether the information you have does relate to a cartel and should be reported