The high stakes associated with antitrust laws make a compliance program critical to manage and minimize your company’s antitrust risks. Violations can lead to criminal convictions, prison sentences and corporate fines and civil awards in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Antitrust investigations -- even if successfully defended -- cost businesses time and resources. In addition to all these risks, antitrust violations can impact severely a company’s reputation. An effective compliance program can not only prevent serious violations, but also root out cartel activity at an early stage, which could assist a company in taking advantage of leniency rules for early reporting to U.S. and foreign antitrust authorities.
Calfee has extensive experience designing and implementing antitrust compliance programs for clients in a variety of industries, addressing both in-house counsel and business teams. Calfee designs antitrust compliance programs that will assist its clients in meeting the standards of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines so that they can be deemed “effective” and thus potentially serve as a mitigating factor in criminal sentencing. These programs address the risks your employees face in areas as varied as competitor relations, purchasing and distribution policies, pricing practices, trade association activity, mergers and acquisitions, and other concerns.
Because the potential risks depend significantly on the specific market environment of your business, our antitrust compliance programs are tailored to the unique circumstances of your company, including the business size, products and market position. We educate your employees as to the risks arising from seemingly harmless interactions in the marketplace. Our goal is to help you achieve your business goals while minimizing your antitrust risks.
Some of the most serious antitrust compliance risks:
- Per se violations of the Sherman Act, including price-fixing, bid-rigging and market allocations with competitors, are criminal violations that can result in millions of dollars in fines and restitution and even prison sentences for executives. Winning plaintiffs in civil antitrust actions, meanwhile, collect treble damages and attorney fee awards. Even antitrust investigations are expensive and burdensome for companies and employees.
- Many companies face potential price discrimination risks under the Robinson-Patman Act, and their pricing policies pose uncertain risks related to shifting resale price maintenance rules under the Sherman Act and state antitrust laws.
- Dominant firms face additional risks under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, which poses additional considerations for those companies with market power.
A thorough compliance program also can address the antitrust rules governing vertical relationships with suppliers and customers, including dealer restraints, dealer terminations and non-price restrictions on customers.