Antitrust & Competition

The guarantee of free and undistorted competition is essential for sustainable economies. This is why cartels and the abuse of market power are strictly prohibited (subject to a few exceptions) in the European Union, Germany and other major industrialised nations. In order to operate within this regulatory framework in compliance with antitrust and competition law and with entrepreneurial success, companies need a sophisticated antitrust and competition law strategy.

This strategy should not only be in place when the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) or the European Commission intend to impose fines or when victims of antitrust law infringements threaten to claim damages. It should already take effect when agreements with competitors are negotiated or when joint ventures are planned. When setting up distribution and licensing models, such strategy should consider all the relevant markets proactively. It should also support the organisation of corporate mergers and investments if the merger control thresholds are met due to the size of the parties.

It is increasingly important to act prudently with respect to antitrust and competition law risks, not least due to the globally increasing activities and ever closer cooperation among competition authorities. Companies may face significant fines, e.g. because parent companies can be held jointly and severally liable for (former) subsidiaries and joint ventures. At the same time, direct and indirect victims of antitrust law infringements are more frequently claiming compensation for cartel damages.

In practical terms this means that pre-emptive measures should be taken in order to ensure compliance with antitrust and competition law. Whenever a company is accused of antitrust law infringements, it must initiate the right steps promptly in order to minimise risks and avert damages.