Antitrust and competition laws are designed to prevent a variety of anticompetitive business practices.
Being an international organization, the activities of FIATA members are subject to different competition laws in different countries. Activities which may be lawful in one country may be unlawful in another, and it is not possible to catalogue all activities or forms of conduct which might fall within the scope of competition laws in every jurisdiction.
FIATA has therefore adopted this antitrust policy to offer general guidance to its members in the conduct of FIATA activities. This policy is not meant to be an exhaustive statement of principle. It is instead a general overview of applicable guidelines, which is designed to be amended or updated, as circumstances require.
Participants at FIATA meetings should receive a written summary of this policy and should be made aware of this at the beginning of the meeting.
Certain kinds of joint conduct are presumed to be unreasonable and, therefore, unlawful. These so-called per se unlawful practices are joint activities that courts in many countries have long found restrain competition and lack redeeming pro-competitive benefits. There are severe penalties for violation of these laws. Examples of prohibited conduct include:
- Setting prices: Agreements or communication with the purpose or effect of setting or maintaining either prices or factors relating to prices, such as credit, discounts, profit levels, rates surcharges, commissions, and fees.
- Allocating markets or customers: Agreements or communication with the purpose or effect of allocating markets, such as an agreement, not to provide service to a particular geographic area, industry, customer, or group of customers in return for a reciprocal pledge from a competitor. These types of agreements among competitors are never lawful, regardless of the context of the agreement.
- Tying: Agreements or communication with the purpose or effect of requiring a customer to buy an unwanted product or service to obtain the desired product or service. In addition, agreements with the purpose or effect of refusing to deal with competitors, customers, suppliers, or other third parties (often called ‘group boycotts’) have often been declared unlawful, and should be avoided.
FIATA practices to comply with competition law
- FIATA strictly prohibits any discussion or other communication with the purpose or effect of which might be construed as an agreement or understanding, or an attempt to induce others to enter into such an agreement or understanding, to set prices, allocate markets or customers, engage in tying arrangements, or refrain from purchasing any goods or services from any particular supplier or vendor.
- FIATA membership will be denied or revoked for any reason which could reasonably be construed to be anticompetitive in its substance or in its process.
- In conducting FIATA meetings, the chair shall follow a formal agenda to be approved in advance by FIATA management and minutes shall be kept. It is the responsibility of the chair to enforce these guidelines and intervene, if necessary, to cut off discussion of prohibited subjects. Approval of the minutes shall be obtained at the next meeting.
- Whenever possible, qualified counsel will attend all FIATA meetings to ensure compliance with these guidelines.
- During informal discussions at a FIATA meeting, beyond the control of their chairs, officers or counsel, all members are expected to observe the same standard of personal conduct as is required of FIATA in its compliance with these guidelines.
Best practices discussions
The following guidelines will be applied to any ‘best practices’ discussions:
- All industry practices discussed should involve an attempt to reduce costs, improve efficiency or the quality of service. Discussions should be limited to what is reasonably necessary to accomplish in these legitimate goals.
- As in other areas of FIATA activity, price and other competitively sensitive terms of trade should not be discussed in the ‘best practices’ context. Specific present or future competitive plans and strategies of individual companies should not be discussed, nor should specific customer information or specific companies' costs.
- In discussing ‘best practices’, no agreement should be reached to use only a particular practice, to deal with suppliers or customers on particular terms, or to exclude a member or other competitor for using different practice.
- Prior to a ‘best practices’ discussion, an agenda should be prepared and any questions about whether a matter is appropriate for discussion should be referred to counsel before inclusion in the agenda. Minutes should be kept of all meetings where ‘best practices’ are discussed. Should questions arise about the propriety of a ‘best practices’ discussion, the discussion should be discontinued until counsel can be consulted.