Posted by

Judith Frame, Head of Compliance at the CMA

14 Dec 2015

Competition – it’s an essential part of every-day business. It can often be tough, but it also brings rewards. By competing with rivals, businesses are able to offer a better service to their customers and can grow and prosper as a result.

Mention the words ‘Competition law compliance’ however, and most small business owners may roll their eyes and turn their attention to something more interesting. Which may well include their quarterly paperclip audit.

But suggest that they might be being cheated by a supplier, or that a competitor might be winning business unfairly, and you’re guaranteed a business’ undivided attention.

The difference in attention levels is caused by how relevant businesses think it is.

Competition law exists to protect businesses and consumers from other businesses who are competing unfairly (or, to put it another way, ‘cheating’). But talk about ‘compliance’ and businesses think about restrictive red tape rather than the ability to have a fair crack at running their business successfully. Being able to compete for business fairly and being charged competitive prices by suppliers is hugely relevant to businesses, especially smaller ones. Knowing more about what competition law covers can help them identify activity that may be unfair or illegal so that they can report it and stop others from ‘cheating’.

In order to help small businesses, the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK’s competition watchdog) has developed short, simple online materials to help business owners and their staff understand why competition law matters. This includes animated films, a quiz, case studies and one-page guides, to explain the main types of anti-competitive behaviour and why they’re unfair for businesses and consumers. They also explain the serious penalties that can be handed down for anti-competitive, illegal activity and how firms can report others who are engaged in it.

The CMA wants to help businesses be competitive by recognising when other businesses (whether they’re suppliers or competitors) are acting unfairly and illegally and to encourage them to report it and to stay on the right side of the law themselves.

While counting paperclips has its benefits, its competition that makes small businesses successful. And recognising where your business might be losing out could be crucial to long-term success.

Click here to watch the CMA’s animated films as well as further help and advice on what your business needs to look out for.

All views expressed in guest blogs are that of the authors, and not of the British Chambers of Commerce.