Tuesday, July 16, 2019
The Italian Guidelines on Antitrust Compliance Programs and the Difficult Goal of Matching Deterrence, Education, and Business Ethics
Federico Cesare Guido Ghezzi, Bocconi University - Department of Law has written on The Italian Guidelines on Antitrust Compliance Programs and the Difficult Goal of Matching Deterrence, Education, and Business Ethics.
Abstract: In 2018, the Italian Competition Authority issued the “Guidelines on antitrust compliance programs”. The Guidelines identify the adoption and implementation of a robust and effective compliance program as a mitigating circumstance in the calculation of fines for anti-competitive violations. Specifically, the Guidelines allow for a reduction of up to 15% of the fine in the event the antitrust compliance program is adopted before the beginning of an investigation (so-called ex ante facto programs) and a more limited reduction, up to 5% of the fine, for compliance programs implemented during the investigation (so-called ex post facto programs). These reductions are applicable to fines imposed as a result of anticompetitive arrangements and abuses of a dominant position under both the European and Italian competition provisions. In this paper we argue that while the decision to incentivize compliance programs is justified by the lack of competition culture and the structure of the Italian industrial sector, the design of the incentive provided for in the Guidelines is wrong. In particular, the Guideines try to protect its most important enforcement tool, i.e. the leniency program, by conditioning the reward for successful compliance programs to the self-reporting to the competition authority. We suggest a different set of incentives that should protect the leniency program while maintaining the interest in adopting a compliance program. We furthermore suggest a change in the Italian fining Guidelines in order to make the incentives for the adoption of ex ante compliance programs more effective, especially for small and medium sized enterprises.