More recognition across Europe that a well-built and delivered compliance program is being taken into consideration by regulatory authorities comes from France today as the Competition Authority published notice that it would reduce fines for companies that put into place a competition law compliance program. They note and recommend that an “an efficient program” include the following basic elements:
- The existence of a clear, firm and public position of support adopted by the company’s management bodies;
- The commitment to appoint one or more persons responsible for the program’s development and operation;
- Developing information tools, awareness raising measures and staff training;
- Setting up management, audit and whistle blowing mechanisms;
- Establishing a system for reviewing reports of misconduct and taking relevant followup actions.
It’s edifiying to witness the principal of reducing sanctions for companies with an effective compliance program spread out to other areas of corporations law. This is a very welcome development for compliance officers and legal departments who can leverage it to demonstrate the value of their programs.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a surprising to see 1) every market leader (or near-leader) in the EU adopt a compliance program and 2) compliance programs being considered in sanctions on in other aspects of corporate behavior, especially in the financial and energy sectors.