The Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA) has published its Guidelines on antitrust compliance to provide companies with guidance on the content of compliance programmes and the criteria used for assessment when awarding mitigation when calculating pecuniary administrative fines in the event of breaches of antitrust legislation.
In particular, in line with international best practices, the Guidelines define the main elements of an antitrust compliance programme, among which the recognition of the value of competition as an integral part of corporate culture, the identification and assessment of antitrust risk specific to the undertaking, the design of management processes suitable to reduce that risk, the definition of an incentive scheme and the execution of training and of periodic monitoring and possible updating of the programme.
The company involved in a formal preliminary inquiry procedure which intends to benefit from a mitigating factor in light of its compliance programme must submit its request to the Authority together with an explanatory report containing the reasons why the programme can be considered adequate for preventing competition infringements and explaining the concrete initiatives adopted in order to effectively implement the programme.
With regard to reductions of fines, compliance programmes adopted before the start of the investigation may benefit from mitigation of up to:
- 15%, in cases of adequate compliance programmes which have worked efficiently allowing prompt detection and interruption of the infringement before the start of proceedings. Where leniency is applicable, this mitigating circumstance may only be granted if the company has presented an application for leniency;
- 10%, in cases of not manifestly inadequate programmes, provided that the company can adequately amend the programme and begin its implementation after the start of proceedings (and within six months from the opening of the investigation);
- 5%, in cases of clearly inadequate programmes and only where the /company/undertaking/ introduces substantial changes to the programme after the start of proceedings (and within six months from the opening of the investigation).
Compliance programmes adopted ex novo, after the opening of proceedings, may qualify for a reduction of the fine up to 5%.
The final adoption of the Guidelines followed a public consultation during which stakeholders were able to submit their comments.