What to do and what not to do to meet your competitors
We all inevitably meet our competitors. In fact, the business world simply could not work if we did not meet our competitors under certain circumstances, such as at association meetings. Although there is no legal ban on competitors, there are strict competition rules that prohibit such meetings if they violate competition law. Such violations can result in criminal penalties and even jail sentences, writes John Darby of Flynn O’Driscoll.
In order to ensure that the competition rules are not violated, you should always pay attention to the following points when meeting with your competitors:
Make sure that the meeting has a legitimate purpose and does not apply to anti-competitive activities such as pricing or market sharing.
Note that even if a meeting is part of a professional organization, there is no additional protection if the meeting is anti-competitive.
Do not exchange competitive information with competitors, such as: Current, current or future prices, production or trends.
Do not set any prices or other conditions of sale, such as discounts, rebates or credit terms, with your competitors.
Do not assign yourself to placing your orders or customers on your competitors.
Do not agree to give up a contract.
Do not object to others’ attempts to compromise or agree on anticompetitive policies or agreements. If your appeal is raised, leave the meeting immediately.
If the exchange with competitors is to be extended, you should write a written protocol setting out the rules for engagement between the parties.
Do not delay discussions beyond the agreed agenda or beyond the purpose of the meeting.
Remember, there is no conversation “from the plate”.
Keep in mind that the rules of competition law apply to social events and meetings.
Get legal advice before a meeting or a discussion with competitors.
It is noteworthy that many business people share information with their competitors who they would never share with their peers in their own organization. You must remember that they should not answer a question simply because it is asked. In terms of compliance with competition law, the silence is golden. From a competition law perspective, you should always speculate or even discuss potentially risky topics.
If you are not sure if you can share certain information with a competitor, ask yourself the following questions:
Would I be worried if this information was lost on my laptop?
Could a competitor use this information to harm my business?
How many people in my organization actually know about this information?
The consequences of a breach of competition law are serious and varied. It is therefore important to do nothing that could endanger you and your company through the exchange of information.