Competition Law in India is a serious business now. Ignorance of this law and its implications on existing businesses can be very costly, and damage reputations apart from attracting personal liabilities for the staff, even the directors on board.
The Act frowns upon anti-competititve agreements, explicit or implicit, horizontal or vertical, and cartelised conduct of enterprises, collusive bidding or bid-rigging, controlling or limiting production or distribution to influence prices, tie-in arrangements or resale price maintenance, etc. Special powers have been given to investigative arm of CCI to conduct dawn raids, if required.
The conduct of Trade Associations can at times border on sharing sensitive information to influence prices, impact competition by restricting new members, and it is important for them to be conscious of their legitimate role and boundaries.
There are, however, specific safeguards for efficiency enhancing agreements, and also for the rights granted under Patents, copyrights etc.
There are also provisions under leniency sections, wherein enterprises can come forward and get whole or partial reprieve of their liability in a cartel. In the case of global cartels, competition regimes often collaborate and several agreements exist.
For enterprises enjoying dominant position by virtue of their market share, economic power etc, there are special responsibilities enjoined upon them not to abuse their dominant position, in an exploitative or exclusionary manner, or directly or indirectly impose unfair or discriminatory conditions or resort to pre-datory pricing with intent to impact competition.
Apart from heavy penalties and reputational implications, there could be substantial compensation claims by affected parties in decided cases.
It is therefore advisable that enterprises run a reality check of their existing or continuing agreements ( which could even be prior to 2009 when enforcement began) and institutionalise internal compliance programs at various levels, develop manuals for their staff and run periodic tainings of concerned staff.
In a situation when they are victim of such a situation, and need relief, or facing or likely to face an investigation, they might need a professional strategic advice.
We at COMPAD may help you to understand the basic overview of the Competition law, outlining the steps an enterprise can take to help identify and mitigate competition law risks and also, to help ensure your business is compliant with competition law. It may also help you to spot when others are engaging in illegal anti-competitive behaviour and it provides you with details on what to do if you think your business or a competitor is breaking competition law.
Our experts at COMPAD will help you in preparing detailed and exhaustive compliance manuals and checklists, helping in developing programs for sensitization of directors and training of employees with regulatory compliance, along with mock raid and discovery exercises and helping with review of existing old agreements to ensure that they are still competition law complaint, to avoid any unintended violation, and advice on external communications.