Competition Policy and Rules of Engagement (May 2017)
The Association of Property Lenders (the APL) is a trade association in the property lending market and comprises a community of industry participants whose businesses might frequently compete with one another. The Board of the APL considers anti-competitive behaviour of any kind unacceptable and is committed to informing its members how to avoid such behaviour through the adoption of this policy and actively discourages all anti-competitive behaviour. The APL’s aim to promote learning and networking is entirely legitimate provided anti-competitive behaviour can be clearly identified and avoided. Each member should participate in the many events organised by the APL with the knowledge that this policy stands firmly behind it.
Competition law strictly prohibits activity and agreements between organisations which either are intended to, or could inadvertently, restrict or distort competition or has the effect of removing competitive uncertainty. The APL expressly acknowledges the spirit and intention of EU and UK competition law. Each member should be aware that any breach of competition law could attract substantial fines, risk director disqualification and imprisonment, can lead to exposure to third party claims and could also have direct material reputational impact.
The APL Board has identified that risk of anti-competitive behaviour relates principally to the exchange of competitively sensitive information at events organised for the benefit of members. This policy provides general rules of engagement which should not be considered exhaustive guidance but should serve to assist each member of the APL remain in compliance with competition law when participating at events and wider APL sponsored activities. They apply equally to the Board.
Rules of engagement
No member of the APL should ever exchange confidential information related to its, or it’s organisations’:
- current or future prices, fees, commissions (including discounts) for products, services, pricing policies, pricing formulas or plans, whether general, transactional or customer-specific;
- current or future costs, profit margins or profitability targets;
- detailed information on contractual levels of liability and indemnity in its dealings;
- detailed information about specific conditions of sale and terms of business with its customers;
- its marketing plans, including non-public strategy for new/development products and withdrawal of products;
- the identity of and information about specific existing or potential customers; and
- current or expected sales volumes including current and future market share information.
No member shall discourage any person from doing business with any third party.
The discussion of any other confidential business information which might have a competitive value, including know-how and proprietary information relating to the above should be avoided.
Any member who witnesses anti-competitive behaviour or suspects anti-competitive behaviour may have taken place should contact a member of the Board immediately. The APL actively encourages all members to escalate any concerns of anti-competitive behaviour quickly and effectively to protect both themselves and the APL.
The APL will deal with any breaches very seriously which may include termination of membership and, where necessary or advisable for the protection of the APL and its other members, further escalation and reporting.
The APL Board also acknowledges that its own meetings and discussions are subject to the same laws and rules regarding anti-competitive behaviour. The APL Board is committed to conducting its own internal dealings in accordance with this policy and to abide by the following guiding principles:
- to conduct meetings following an agenda, recording all discussion points in writing for approval by the Board at the subsequent meeting;
- the Chairman shall remind each member of the Board at each meeting of the need to comply with this policy, to be aware of anti-competitive behaviour to and to take prompt action to report any anti-competitive behaviour;
- to inform all relevant third parties with whom the APL deals of this policy and requesting that such parties acknowledge the requirement to abide by its rules of engagement;
- to take reasonable steps to remind each member and any non-members which may be in attendance of this policy at each event or seminar held at which general conversations between competitors might take place;
- to conduct all communications with one another, the membership and any other non-members in matters related to the APL in strict accordance with this policy;
- no member of the APL will be deliberately excluded from any event or communication on any arbitrary grounds or for reasons of distorting competition or providing any competitive advantage or disadvantage.
This policy is general in nature and is not intended to give formal guidance on every scenario which might reasonably be foreseeable. Any member of the APL with concerns or queries as to the content of this policy or any potential issues raised by this policy should contact any member of the Board for further information.