The role of competition lawyers and the purpose of competition law are topics that many might not understand unless they’ve been through the process of starting a business and have decided to go pro, or they’re currently working in the legal field. Competition law ensures that businesses are playing fair with consumers, and it protects consumers from unlawful activity such as price-fixing, bait-and-switch tactics, illegal market sharing, and misleading advertising. If you’re considering starting your own business or want to learn more about what competition lawyers do, read on to find out more about the role of competition lawyers in the legal profession.
Investigating Corporate Behavior
The anti-competitive practices that are investigated by a competition lawyer depend on many factors, including The economic sector (for example, finance, energy, or telecommunications); local regulations; and most importantly, complaints from industry rivals. It is important to note that it is illegal for companies to conspire against each other.
Filing a Complaint with Authorities
Businesses that suspect anti-competitive conduct or behavior by another firm or businesses must file a complaint with one of three U.S. government agencies (or their state government equivalents): The Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and/or The Federal Communications Commission. Filing an antitrust lawsuit can be expensive and time-consuming; therefore, it is wise to talk to a qualified competition lawyer before filing such a case.
Acting on Behalf of Competitors
A competition lawyer may often represent a party with a significant interest at stake, such as a competitor. Although it would seem obvious that such an advocate is not necessarily expected to act on behalf of his client’s competitors, there are certain circumstances where an advocate may be called upon to do so. In order to protect those for whom he is acting, a competition lawyer must distinguish between conduct that can be rightfully characterized as self-serving and conduct that falls outside these bounds.
Mergers, acquisitions, and bust-ups are a crucial part of business and economic development. When done correctly, mergers can be good for everyone involved; when not done correctly, mergers can have devastating consequences for companies and even entire industries. To help prevent problems before they start, many companies hire lawyers as merger enforcers to investigate potential mergers.
Challenging Decision-Making Processes
When a competition law is passed or amended, an organization that feels it will be impacted by it must decide how to respond. The question may arise as to whether an organization should seek legal counsel to provide advice on how best to proceed. A lawyer can play a significant role in advising an organization on its decision-making process and supporting its policy recommendations, and may even become involved in negotiations with government officials if required.
Filing False Claims Act Actions
The False Claims Act (FCA) imposes strict liability for false claims against governmental entities, including Medicare and Medicaid. In other words, even a single act by an individual that causes a false claim to be submitted can subject them to liability under FCA. Entities that violate FCA may face fines up to $11,000 per claim and attorneys’ fees. Because FCA is so broad, there is a need for lawyers who specialize in government enforcement of anti-fraud laws like FCA.
Preparing False Claims Act Complaints
The False Claims Act, or FCA, is a United States federal law that allows private individuals and companies to sue on behalf of the government if they find evidence that a company has submitted false claims.
The law seeks to fight fraud against government programs by penalizing those who try to defraud them. Companies cannot be held liable for filing false claims if they have acted in good faith. Good faith means your company had no knowledge or reason to believe its statement was inaccurate or fraudulent when it was made.
Working With Whistleblowers
If you’re a competition lawyer, you work with whistleblowers who have inside information about possible illegal activity. You’ll evaluate and analyze their concerns, then decide whether to file an official complaint on their behalf. While there are rewards to filing complaints, it can also be dangerous.
One whistleblower was recently murdered in retaliation for providing information to law enforcement. If you do choose to take on a whistleblower client, take steps to protect yourself and your family first and foremost.
Dealing with Whistleblowers
One of a competition lawyer’s most important responsibilities is ensuring that businesses follow all legal requirements to avoid breaking competition law. If they don’t, it could lead to heavy fines and imprisonment for both individuals and organizations.