In the free market economy, when competition is effective, society's resources are allocated efficiently, and citizens have the possibility to enjoy the outcome of the competition. Competition encourages companies to intensify their activities and offer products that meet customer expectations. However, competition is not always effective, for example due to structural or legal barriers in market entry. It is also possible that making an agreement with competitors is too tempting. Competition will be restricted and the incentive for companies to produce goods and services customer-orientedly and effectively, decreases. Competition law is a tool to ensure the efficient allocation of society's resources.
There are situations in which almost everyone’s sense of justice agrees that the activities of a company are prohibited. Such practices include price-fixing cartels, in which competitors agree on product prices. At the opposite extreme, there may be a coffee break of an official and legal meeting of a trade association, during which a representative of the company hears a competitor revealing their future market behaviour. If a company does not behave according to requirements set forth in the legal praxis in the latter situation, the company is likely infringing competition laws.
Competition compliance is a part of economic responsibility and risk management that companies and organizations bear. It is important to be aware of both the legal requirements and expectations of the customers and other stakeholders about the responsibility of the company, as well as risks to the organizations caused by competition law infringements. As a part of risk management, the probability of the risks should be assessed and the risks minimized.
We help our clients create a competition compliance program and a process by which the risks related to competition law can be identified in advance and significantly decreased. Together with our client we build a program and a process which takes explicitly the client’s level of risk and the size of the organization into consideration. In some cases a mere in-house training every few years is enough, but for a larger company, sustainability requirements of the customers alone demand a systematic program which the company is able to verify in the sustainability audits, starting from the policy level.
Competition authorities’ proceedings are a risk for the reputation and the resources of the company. Disclosure of a company's potential competition infringement undermines customer confidence and commitment, decreases brand value and negatively affects corporate responsibility assessments. Processes that last several years can freeze the development of the company, since the focus of the management and the board goes partly on considering what happened in the past, use economical resources which would have otherwise been utilized in developing new business, and prevent companies from participating in public procurement tendering procedures.
We assist companies under investigations as well as other companies involved in the proceedings throughout the whole process. It is important that a client has a realistic understanding of the process and the different scenarios to which the process can end up, as well as the economic impacts of the processes.
Complex transactions require coordination of experts in a number of different areas to succeed. We assist companies that grow through mergers, joint ventures and restructuring. With regard to competition law, we take care of the process as a whole from assessing the competitive risks of potential transactions to notifying a concentration and with possible commitment negotiations with competition authorities.
We help both the contracting authorities that organize competitive tenders and companies participating in the tenders to create the best conditions for a successful competitive tender.
Rules on State aid are one of the fastest evolving areas of law worldwide. In certain circumstances State aid may distort competition and is prohibited. State aid may also have far-reaching consequences for governments and companies. This impact has become even more apparent during COVID-19 pandemic as the State aid programs have been extended to moderate the economic effects of the pandemic.
We assist our clients in compliance with State aid legislation, for example in matters related to partnership between the public and the private sector and in applying for subsidies.