It is the policy of FIA to comply with all applicable antitrust/competition laws in such manner as to avoid even the appearance of improper activity. Compliance with antitrust/competition laws is the responsibility of all FIA participants, officers, staff, and consultants.
The antitrust/competition laws broadly prohibit competitors from restraining competition among themselves with respect to price, quality or distribution of any products or services. These laws also forbid competitors from acting in concert to restrict the competitive capabilities or opportunities of their competitors, suppliers or customers.
Certain practices are, under these laws, conclusively presumed to be unreasonable and thus illegal. Such practices include entering into or facilitating any agreement among competitors:
- on prices or fees charged to customers;
- on distribution, or sales practices, or territories;
- refusing to use or purchase a particular product, or refusing to patronize a particular service provider.
Such agreements need not be formal. They can be oral and informal, where the course of discussions among competitors or their conduct forms the basis for antitrust enforcement agencies or private plaintiffs to allege a collective decision.
Trade associations have long been recognized as serving a valuable, procompetitive, and entirely lawful role in promoting economic development and consumer welfare. However, because trade associations provide a forum for competitors to interact with one another, and thus potentially reach the type of prohibited agreements identified above, serious problems can arise if a trade association’s activities are not properly conducted. It is thus vital that all meetings and activities of FIA be conducted so as to avoid even the appearance of improper conduct. Counsel for FIA should be consulted in advance of undertaking any activity that raises potential antitrust/competition law concerns.
If at any time during the course of any meeting or activity, FIA personnel believe that a sensitive topic under the antitrust laws is being discussed, or is about to be discussed, they will so advise those present and halt further discussion. Attendees at any FIA meeting or other activity should likewise not hesitate to voice any concerns they may have in this regard. All FIA members and personnel share in this important responsibility.