The regulatory framework at national & international level exists to prevent anti-competitive practices in trade.
Cartels, monopolies, abuse of dominant position, restrictive trade practices and commercial stitch-ups can be unlawful and prohibited under UK & EU competition law.
Even a relatively small business might have to consider competition law if, for example, it has developed a market leading product.
Competition is a complex area of law and competition authorities have far reaching powers to investigate activity which has the potential to be anti-competitive and ultimately impose sanctions (such as director disqualification and significant fines) if the activity is found to be in breach of competition law rules.
A significant breach of competition law in the UK could potentially lead to investigation by competition law enforcement authorities in the EU (European Commission) and UK (Office of Fair Trading). Investigations in the UK can be started by ‘dawn raid’ on a business premises.
Enforcement is not only achieved through the actions of public competition authorities however.
Competition law can be used as a basis for private actions between individuals or companies.
Such an action might be taken against a competitor to ensure future compliance with competition law through an injunction or to receive compensation for damages suffered as a result of a breach of competition law.