Fighting cartels has become a priority for competition agencies worldwide leading to heavy fines and in some jurisdictions criminal sanctions, including imprisonment.
However, some jurisdictions operate leniency policies whereby companies that provide information about a cartel in which they participated might receive full or partial immunity from fines. These programmes have an important role to play in promoting competition compliance, but their application often varies significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This means, for instance, that companies which receive immunity in one country could still be subject to sanctions in another.
To provide greater clarity for business, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has published a Leniency Manual which aims to demystify the leniency application process and provide guidance to businesses for filing local and multi-jurisdictional applications.
Unveiled at ICC’s 8th Competition Roundtable taking place in Singapore, the ICC Leniency Manual guides users through each stage of the leniency application process – from the very initial contact with a competition agency to its final decision.
“Leniency is the only legal way in which a company can obtain immunity from an antitrust fine. No common leniency application system exists, which means that applications filed with more than one agency are assessed independently,” said Marcin Trepka a member of the global Antitrust, Competition and Trade Regulation practice at K&L Gates and Co-Chair of the ICC Task force on Cartels and Leniency that prepared the new publication
The ICC Leniency Manual is clearly the answer for progressive competition, market and trade development and an indispensable tool for each leniency applicant worldwide.
Easy access guidance on leniency applications
The new ICC Leniency Manual gives an overview of the generic leniency application process before taking a closer look at the filing requirements of specific regions and countries worldwide – from Australia to the United States.
“The ICC Leniency Manual is clearly the answer for progressive competition, market and trade development and an indispensable tool for each leniency applicant worldwide,” Mr Trepka said.
Each country-specific chapter of the manual includes a short description of leniency in the country as well as a list of issues that the leniency applicant should consider. These are illustrated by user friendly colour-coded flowcharts that provide dynamic step-by-step details of the leniency application process.
What’s more, thanks to the handy ‘fast facts’ section of each chapter, applicants can quickly see that while applications to the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) should be made via fax, applications to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) can be made via a secured website link.
The manual concludes with a helpful aide-mémoire designed to explain the basic requirements under a generic leniency application to accompany to the featured flowcharts.
ICC at the ICN
As the main business interlocutor to the International Competition Network, the ICC Commission on Competition is the global voice of business on antitrust issues – ensuring that both the needs of business and the realities of markets are taken into account in the formulation and implementation of competition laws and policies worldwide.
The ICC Leniency Manual was unveiled at ICC’s high-level roundtable on competition policy, taking place in Singapore on the margins of the International Competition Network’s annual forum. Now in its eighth edition, the annual roundtable has established a reputation as the key gathering for business and agency antitrust experts to engage and to keep pace with developments in the international competition landscape.
The event also highlighted a new ICC proposal to create a one-stop-shop for leniency markers that would offer companies an efficient system for reporting cartel behaviour while preserving incentives to enter into leniency programmes in multiple jurisdictions.