The way in which professional bodies work may be conducive to anticompetitive practices, such as price fixing, exchanges of information or concerted actions to hinder the development of competition. Various decisions by the Autorité have shown that trade associations and professional bodies can be the catalysts or facilitators of prohibited practices, whether they support or instigate them. This risk is structural, to the extent that these bodies bring together the actors in a market, who are in competition with each other. The operation of professional organisations therefore warrants particular vigilance (agendas, nature of exchanges, membership rules) on the part of both the organisation itself and its member companies.
Since the adoption of the ECN+ Directive, the maximum fine has been raised to 10% of the total turnover of the members of the professional body (compared with 3 million euros previously). As a result, professional associations, as well as their member companies, are now exposed to very serious fines in the event of any infringement.
More than ever, professional bodies are invited to become actors at the service of compliance, by informing their members about competition risk in the context of their training and informational tasks. To prevent any risk in this area, they must be extra careful in their exchanges and internal rules, particularly with regard to membership, and in their external communication, to avoid their practices falling under the scourge of competition law.