The Board of the North East of England Process Industry Cluster (“NEPIC” or “Cluster”) has adopted the following policy to ensure that all activities of the Cluster operate in compliance with UK and European competition laws.
It is the Association’s policy to comply with UK and European competition laws in letter and spirit. This policy applies to anyone acting on (i) the NEPIC’s behalf; and (ii) behalf of an NEPIC member.
Members are reminded that UK and European competition laws apply to their business activities and actions including the actions and activities which take place under the auspices of trade associations such as the NEPIC.
This policy statement is necessarily general in nature and cannot anticipate every legal issue or fact pattern that might be faced by the NEPIC, its members, or its staff. Therefore, it is important that individuals consult the NEPIC’s Chairman or Chief Executive Officer, who shall in appropriate cases seek legal advice, when questions arise as to the application of this policy.
2. Trade Associations & Competition Law Issues
Trade associations, such as NEPIC, are legitimate, important bodies, which advance issues of common interest to the industry. As NEPIC includes members who are competitors, we must be vigilant to ensure that participation in the Cluster complies with competition laws at all times.
Competition law violations can lead to significant fines and damages actions for the Cluster and/or members concerned, and fines, imprisonment and/or director disqualification for individuals. Competition proceedings and litigation are expensive and burdensome even when ultimately successfully defended. Moreover, mere allegations of wrong-doing can harm both the Cluster and concerned members’ reputations.
3. UK and EU Competition Laws
UK and EU competition laws prohibit arrangements (including information exchange) between undertakings and decisions by associations of undertakings, which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition. In particular, they prohibit practices which include:
The following policy is provided to NEPIC members to help ensure that meetings and activities of NEPIC members do not lead to breaches of UK and European competition laws and in particular no competitively sensitive information is exchanged. This policy applies before, during and after formal meetings, informal meetings, events and presentations (“NEPIC Interactions”). Please keep in mind that UK and European competition laws are complex and that this policy does not cover all contingencies. Please consult the Chairman or Chief Executive Officer if you have any questions about the application of this policy.
Discuss, let alone agree, with any other competitor or potential competitor (whether before, during or after NEPIC Interactions) on any of the following:
Remember that codes of conduct do not justify any anticompetitive conduct or agreement. Furthermore, remember that just being present when illegal discussions are taking place may be sufficient to implicate you and your company in a competition law infringement, even if you do not actively participate in the discussions.