OFT Guides SMEs Through Competition Rules

Small business owners can quickly check that they are complying with competition rules, following the publication of new guidance by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Two new guides have been published by the OFT following feedback from small firms that they were confused about their obligations under competition law.

How Your Business Can Achieve Compliance (PDF) sets out the OFT’s risk-based, four-step process for businesses to comply with competition law, and is tailored to the needs of small businesses. The second guide, Company Directors and Competition Law (PDF) explains the steps that directors are expected to take to avoid breaches in competition law.

“Small businesses can be affected by competition law on issues such as price fixing, where businesses get together and discuss or set prices with a competitor – restricting competition for other firms and meaning that consumers won’t get a free and fair price.”

said OFT spokesman, Jonathan Marciano.

“Small firms don’t always understand competition law and their obligations when talking to other firms, what they can and can’t say. Essentially, they can’t share any information which is commercially sensitive with their competitors.”

“Fines can be up to ten per cent of a firm’s annual turnover for breaches. Directors should know that ignorance is not a defence. If they should have known about an infringement in their company they can be stripped of their directorship in court.”

“The new guide should help prevent small firms falling foul of these issues and outlines basic compliance measures they can take.”

Competition Law prohibits anti-competitive behaviour and abuse of a dominant market position – for example, fixing prices for goods or services or carving up markets or discriminating between prices charged to customers for the same product.

For more information about complying with competition rules, visit the OFT website.

OFT Guides SMEs Through Competition Rules

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