De minimis horizontal agreements are agreements between two or more companies that are considered to be of minor importance and do not have a significant impact on competition within a market. These agreements are typically exempt from antitrust laws and regulations.
The term “de minimis” comes from the Latin phrase “de minimis non curat lex,” which means “the law does not concern itself with trifles.” In the context of competition law, de minimis refers to agreements that are so small in scale that they do not warrant regulatory scrutiny.
Horizontal agreements are agreements between competitors that, if not closely monitored, could lead to anticompetitive behavior. Examples of horizontal agreements include price-fixing, bid-rigging, and market allocation. These types of agreements harm competition by limiting consumer choice, driving up prices, and stifling innovation.
De minimis horizontal agreements are unlikely to have a significant impact on competition because they are so small in scale. For example, two small businesses in the same industry agreeing to collaborate on a minor project would likely qualify as a de minimis horizontal agreement.
In the United States, de minimis horizontal agreements are exempt from antitrust laws under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. However, the exemption is limited to agreements that do not involve price-fixing, market allocation, or other forms of collusion that harm competition.
In the European Union, de minimis horizontal agreements are exempt from antitrust laws under Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The exemption applies to agreements that do not exceed certain market share thresholds and do not have a significant effect on competition within the market.
It is important to note that just because an agreement is classified as a de minimis horizontal agreement does not mean it is immune from antitrust scrutiny. Regulators may still investigate and challenge the agreement if they believe it has a significant impact on competition.
In conclusion, de minimis horizontal agreements are small-scale agreements between competitors that do not warrant regulatory scrutiny under antitrust laws. These agreements are exempt from antitrust laws but are still subject to investigation if they have a significant impact on competition. As a professional, it is important to understand the basics of de minimis horizontal agreements to provide informative and accurate content to readers.