Ignore CMA probe at your peril, says lawyer

Businesses need to get their heads out of the sand when it comes to competition law, a legal expert has claimed.

Stephen Sidkin (pictured), a partner at law firm Fox Williams LLP, argued that as long as businesses “adopt the position of the ostrich” and deny that competition law applies to them, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issue would “run and run”.

He also congratulated the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) for seeking to be transparent about its position over the CMA fine. However, he explained that the BMA is doubtless also aware that competition law applies to trade associations too.

“For example, if at a meeting of an association’s executive committee, some of the members represented began to discuss price-fixing or market-sharing matters,” he said, “it follows that it is relatively easy for the CMA to look at trade associations, as well as its individual members, in order to determine whether an infringement of competition law is occurring.”

Responding to Sidkin’s comments, BMA chief executive Yvonne Orgill said: “The BMA has present, at all its board, management and general council meetings, a corporate lawyer to ensure discussions do not wonder in to areas not allowed under competition rules. The association also undertakes at all its meetings reference to the Competition Act and the allowable boundaries – thus keeping members very clear on what they can and cannot talk about. The BMA ‘Competition’ legal statement is available for all to see on the association website.”

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