Legally Approved Guidelines
These guidelines are not comprehensive and are designed to serve as a reminder only. It is the responsibility of each member to take its own advice on attendance at meetings and what can and cannot legitimately be discussed.
The Health & Beauty Association is a membership organisation. Many of its members compete with each other. The competition is both horizontal and vertical. This means that every activity must be measured against National and EU competition laws, which prohibit agreements, decisions, and concerted practices that prevent, restrict or distort competition, including monopolies and abuses of dominant market positions. Infringements of competition laws are treated very seriously by the authorities and could result, in heavy fines, both for individual members and for the association. Certain serious offences such as price fixing now carry criminal penalties (possibly including prison) for individual executives.
Strict compliance with competition law is and always has been the policy of the Association. It exercises extreme care to avoid not only infringement, but also anything that might raise even a suspicion of possible infringement.
An action, seemingly innocent when taken by itself, may be viewed by competition enforcers as part of a pattern of activity, which constitutes a competition infringement. Therefore, participants on committees, working groups or other similar bodies must always remember the purpose of the committee/group is to enhance the ability of all industry members to provide better value to the consumer or end user. However, because the Association?s activity always involves companies that may be competitors, great care must be taken to ensure compliance with the competition laws.
At all times it must be remembered that, whatever is discussed at an Association meeting, it is up to each member individually to make its own commercial decisions on all matters.
Participation must be voluntary, and failure to participate shall not be used to penalise any company.
There shall be no discussion, or sharing, of confidential commercially sensitive information, including in particular price information (relating not only to actual prices charged or paid but also the elements of pricing including, for example, costs, discounts, rebates, promotional activities and terms of trade), allocation of geographic markets, customers or products, boycotts, refusals to deal, or market share.
Historic data on, inter alia, prices, volumes and trading terms may be provided to the General Secretary for the purposes of agreed work topics but at no time shall such data be available to other members. If the source of the data is identifiable, aggregated historical data can be disseminated to members if carefully vetted in advance by external lawyers. Tests or data collection shall also be governed by protocols developed in consultation with and monitored by external lawyers.
Meetings shall be governed by an agenda prepared in advance, and recorded by minutes prepared promptly after the meeting.
The minutes or summaries of any committee or working group are just that. Individual companies remain free to make independent, competitive decisions.
Any standards endorsed will be voluntary and any business practice recommendation developed will also be voluntary.
If any participant believes the group is drifting toward impermissible discussion, the topic shall be tabled until the opinion of external lawyers can be obtained.