From being a fringe activity for the legal profession, competition law compliance has become a key pillar of good corporate citizenship over the last 15 years or so. So much legal expertise, business insight and creativity goes into ever-more sophisticated and bespoke compliance programs. It is about time to recognize outstanding accomplishments in this important field, and I am very pleased that Concurrences has given me a chance to support their initiative.
Compliance plays an integral role in antitrust/competition law and this initiative recognizes its growing centrality.
We are firm believers that proactive competition law compliance by businesses of all sizes is an important factor in well-functioning markets. Accordingly, we welcome this effort to increase awareness of compliance best practices and to demonstrate through dialogue and recognition that a strong culture of compliance, supported by effective policies and procedures, makes good business sense.
Compliance, as well as time to market, constitutes a major strategic challenge for economic players but also for authorities and institutions. What is the rule without the knowledge of this rule, the understanding of issues and risks at stake ? This is most apt when it comes to behavioral rules. Competition law is now part of companies’ codes of conduct which imply for staffs to act in a responsible and ethical manner. Being aware of competition law rules is therefore much more than a legal requirement. It is part of the corporate culture.
Today Competition Law Compliance Programmes are widespread. However, from the perspective of Heads of competition law / Compliance officers in charge, maintaining such programmes as top priorities is not a walk in the park. To the contrary, it is a real challenge to always keep them up especially when they are themselves in competition with many compliance requirements imposed by legislations, e.g. anti bribery, money laundering.
Concurrences identified this issue and started months ago to propose dedicated events. The Awards Compliance Initiative, that I’d like to commend, will be the high point of exchanges started in February 2019 at Concurrences’ initiative but also, and it has to be stressed, in the framework of a dedicated working group set-up by the French Competition Authority in 2020. More broadly, it will gather international actors, authorities and institutions and allow them to share their views and more practically, their best recipes and tools.
I am very delighted to be part of the Antitrust Compliance Summit & Awards Steering Committee together with other distinguished members.
The Italian Competition Authority strongly supports this much-needed initiative of Concurrences which contributes to promote and strengthen a competition culture at global level and I hope its innovative format will attract as many participant agencies as possible in sharing their experiences in evaluating compliance programmes for the purpose of potential fine reductions for businesses.
Since the adoption of our own guidelines in 2018, antitrust programmes in Italy have become an increasingly important component of businesses’ general compliance programmes. Our practice has shown that designing and implementing antitrust programmes is not a “box-checking exercise” and there is no “one size fits all” type of programme.
I believe this initiative, by exchanging best practices for successful antitrust compliance, will surely be of interest for our agency as well as many other competition agencies around the world.