Discussion Topics to Avoid
Violation of antitrust law is a felony. Criminal sanction for antitrust violations have increased substantially in the past decade. A corporate violator may be fined as much as $10,000,000. Individuals may be punished by fines up to $350,000 and by jail sentences of up to three years.
Trade association such as the Investment Recovery Association–which by their very nature involve interaction among competitors and/or suppliers and customers–are subject to close scrutiny for antitrust violations. Therefore, members must be very careful to keep their activities within the prescribed bounds, both in appearance and in actual fact.
The following checklist has been prepared to provide guidance for members in their conduct at meetings or in connection with other activities. It is important to note that federal and state antitrust legislation is very extensive, and the guidelines provided herein are not exhaustive and do not provide a complete synopsis or summary of antitrust legislation.
THUS, INTERESTED MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATE MEMBERS SHOULD REVIEW APPLICABLE LEGISLATION AND/OR CONFER WITH THEIR ATTORNEY FOR A MORE COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF ANTITRUST COMPLIANCE.
DO NOT at any meeting or social gathering incidental to the Investment Recovery Association’s activities, whether seriously or in jest, discuss or exchange any information, either directly or indirectly, regarding the following subjects:
- Prices. A member or associate member company’s prices (present or future), pricing patterns or policies, price differentials, price changes, or other terms and conditions of sales (e.g., rates or policies, discounts, markups, credit terms) or any other topic that might be construed as proprietary information. Past prices, once of historical record, hold somewhat lower risk, but still should be avoided.
- Costs. A member or associate member’s company’s costs, production, markets, capacity, inventory, or sales, or its plans regarding the design, production, distribution or marketing of a specific product, including, but not limited to, possible customers or sales territories.
- Market Conditions. Except to the extent necessary to further legitimize the Association objectives, general market conditions and general industry problems, including industry pricing policies or patterns, price levels, price differentials, or similar matters, or industry productions, capacity or inventories, including, but not limited to, planned and anticipated changes in any of the above referenced topics.
- Bidding. Anything that directly or indirectly relates to a company’s bidding procedures for responding to bid invitations and/or a company’s bid(s) on any particular products or contract.
- Market Division. Any matters related to territorial restrictions, allocations of customers, restrictions on types of products or services, or any other kind of market division.
- Customers or Suppliers. Matters relating to actual or potential customers or suppliers that might have the effect of excluding them from any market or influencing the business of conduct of any company toward such customers or suppiers, including the imposition of any influence of pressure from or other party or member to bring market dissidents into line or penalize non-participants in the group.