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SMEs - do you understand the dos and don'ts of competition law?

Last month, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a suite of materials designed to help small and medium businesses (SMEs) understand the dos and don’ts of competition law. 

The key message from the CMA is that competition is an essential element of business, and organisations that comply with the rules risk being put at a disadvantage if their rivals flout them.

It comes after recent a research survey showed that SMEs lack knowledge of competition law and how it affects them. With 77% of respondents saying that they either did not know competition law very well or hadn't heard of it at all, the CMA is concerned that this could lead to businesses unknowingly breaking the rules, or being victim of others breaking the law.

The CMA has reported that, although 55% of businesses knew price-fixing was illegal, 18% wrongly thought it was acceptable to agree prices with rivals and 27% were unsure.

In addition, 23% of company representatives thought it was ‘okay to discuss prospective bids with competing bidders’ and 29% were unsure if bid-rigging was illegal. And 31% thought it was acceptable for businesses to agree not to sell to the same customers as each other.

Further research revealed that most SMEs had a shared ethical sense that certain anti-competitive practices are unfair or wrong and wanted straightforward guidance on the main behaviours that breach competition law; price-fixing, bid-rigging and market-sharing. 

The CMA has therefore produced user-friendly advice on the law and how to comply, alongside information on what to do if they suspect another firm is breaking the law.

In addition, the CMA has published an at a glance guide to competition law, a checklist on what to avoid, and case studies about companies which have broken the law and how they were punished.

For more information contact Dimitris Sinaniotis on +44 (0)333 006 0497 or dimitris.sinaniotis@TLTsolicitors.com 

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at December 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions on www.TLTsolicitors.com

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