Antitrust and competition laws are designed to prevent a variety of anticompetitive business practices.
Because FIATA is an international organization, the activities of its members are subject to the differing competition laws of many countries. Activities which may be lawful in one country may be unlawful in another. It would be virtually impossible to catalog all of the activities or forms of conduct which might fall within the scope of those particular laws, since the laws themselves are stated in very general terms.
Nevertheless, because FIATA believes it is imperative to state at least in broad terms the basic principles which it follows in conducting its business, it has adopted this policy in the hope that it might offer some general guidance for now and the future. This policy is not meant to be an exhaustive statement of principle; it is instead a general overview of applicable policies and is designed to be amended or updated, as circumstances require.
A written summary of these principles should be given to every participant at FIATA meetings, and their attention should be directed to them 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 the courts in many countries have long found clearly 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 communications with the object (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 cmmunications 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 communications with the purposes or effect of requiring a customer to buy an unwanted product or service in order to obtain the product or service desired. 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 PROCEDURES TO COMPLY WITH COMPETITION LAW
- FIATA strictly prohibits any discussion or other communication the purposes 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.
- Membership in FIATA will not 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 shall be the responsability of the chair immediately to enforce these guidelines, and to 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.
- In informal discussions at the site of a FIATA meeting, but beyond the control of its chairmen, officers or counsel, all members are expected to observe the same standard of personal conduct as are required of FIATA in its compliance with these guidelines.
Best Practices Discussions
The following guidelines will be applied to any “best practices” discussion:
- All industry practices discussed should involve an attempt to reduce costs, realize efficiency or improve the quality of service. Discussions should be limited to what is reasonably necessary to accomplish 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 parctices" context. Specific present or future competitive plans and strategies of individual companies should not be discussesd, 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 on the agenda. Minutes should be kept of all meetings at which "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.