SSA Antitrust Policy and Meeting Guidelines
The antitrust laws seek to preserve a free competitive economy in the United States and in commerce with foreign countries. As a general rule, competitors may not restrain competition among themselves through understandings or agreements as to the price, the production, or the distribution of their products, or other agreements which unreasonably restrict competition. They may not act in concert to restrict the competitive capabilities or opportunities of their competitors, their suppliers, or their customers.
Unlawful agreements can be inferred from circumstantial evidence. Furthermore, penalties for violating the antitrust laws are severe. The guidelines, set forth below, are designed to avoid even the appearance of questionable activity. At SSA meetings, the following will not be discussed:
- Current or future prices.
- What constitutes a "fair profit level."
- Possible increases or decreases in prices.
- Standardization or stabilization of prices.
- Pricing procedures.
- Cash discounts.
- Credit terms.
- Control of sales.
- Allocation of markets or geographical division of markets.
- Refusal to deal with a corporation because of its pricing or distribution practices.
- Whether or not the pricing practices of any industry member are unethical or constitute an unfair trade practice.
Statement of Policy
It is the policy of the SSA and its members to comply strictly with all laws applicable to SSA's activities. Because SSA's activities involve cooperative undertakings and meetings among competitors, the Board of Directors emphasizes the ongoing commitment of SSA and its members to full compliance with federal and state antitrust laws. A statement explaining this policy is to be provided at all SSA meetings to remind each member of this commitment and as a general guide for our activities and meetings.
Responsibility for Antitrust Compliance
SSA's programs have been carefully designed and reviewed to ensure their conformity with antitrust standards. Each SSA member has an equivalent responsibility for antitrust compliance. Each business enterprise and SSA depend upon good judgment by all to avoid discussions and activities which could involve improper subject matter or improper procedures-or even an appearance of improper activity. SSA staff members work conscientiously to avoid subject matters for discussion that may have unintended implications, and counsel for SSA provides guidance with regard to these matters. Thus, all concerned have an important and individual responsibility for assuring antitrust compliance in SSA activities.
To avoid even the appearance of questionable activity, as well as to guard against inadvertent conduct, all SSA board meetings will be conducted in accord with the following procedures:
- A written agenda will be prepared.
- Accurate minutes of every meeting will be prepared, expeditiously sent to the participants, and approved at the next meeting.
- In case of doubt about the propriety of a topic of discussion, consult staff management or corporate counsel.
- If a member has a reservation concerning remarks or discussion at an SSA board meeting, officially state the reservation; if the discussion is not terminated or resolved satisfactorily, the concerned member should leave the meeting.
- Informal sessions involving the discussion of business matters should be avoided.
Compliance with these guidelines involves not only avoidance of antitrust violations, but avoidance of any behavior which might be considered improper. Antitrust laws are complex and far-reaching. This statement is not a complete summary of all applicable laws. It is intended to highlight and emphasize certain basic precautions designed to avoid antitrust problems. In case of doubt, seek the guidance of staff management or SSA counsel or your own corporate counsel if antitrust questions arise. More detailed information is available upon request. Call 703-575-8000.