SOA Antitrust Compliance Guidelines
Active participation in the Society of Actuaries is an important aspect of membership. While the positive contributions of professional societies and associations are well-recognized and encouraged, association activities are vulnerable to close antitrust scrutiny. By their very nature, associations bring together industry competitors and other market participants.
The United States antitrust laws aim to protect consumers by preserving the free economy and prohibiting anti-competitive business practices; they promote competition. There are both state and federal antitrust laws, although state antitrust laws closely follow federal law. The Sherman Act, is the primary U.S. antitrust law pertaining to association activities. The Sherman Act prohibits every contract, combination or conspiracy that places an unreasonable restraint on trade. There are, however, some activities that are illegal under all circumstances, such as price fixing, market allocation and collusive bidding.
There is no safe harbor under the antitrust law for professional association activities. Therefore, association meeting participants should refrain from discussing any activity that could potentially be construed as having an anti-competitive effect. Discussions relating to product or service pricing, market allocations, membership restrictions, product standardization or other conditions on trade could arguably be perceived as a restraint on trade and may expose the SOA and its members to antitrust enforcement procedures.
While participating in all SOA in person meetings, webinars, teleconferences or side discussions, you should avoid discussing competitively sensitive information with competitors and follow these guidelines:
- Do not discuss prices for services or products or anything else that might affect prices
- Do not discuss what you or other entities plan to do in a particular geographic or product markets or with particular customers.
- Do not speak on behalf of the SOA or any of its committees unless specifically authorized to do so.
- Do leave a meeting where any anticompetitive pricing or market allocation discussion occurs.
- Do alert SOA staff and/or legal counsel to any concerning discussions
- Do consult with legal counsel before raising any matter or making a statement that may involve competitively sensitive information.
Adherence to these guidelines involves not only avoidance of antitrust violations, but avoidance of behavior which might be so construed. These guidelines only provide an overview of prohibited activities. SOA legal counsel reviews meeting agenda and materials as deemed appropriate and any discussion that departs from the formal agenda should be scrutinized carefully. Antitrust compliance is everyone’s responsibility; however, please seek legal counsel if you have any questions or concerns.