Antitrust/Competition Consent Orders in Korea

in 2011, the Korean National Assembly passed, along with the Korea-U.S. FTA and related bills, a law that  allows the Fair Trade Commission of Korea (KFTC) to accept consent orders.  A consent order is similar, in many respects, to a nolo contendere plea.

The consent order process has allowed the KFTC to punish without the admission of guilt to the company. This has lead to a decrease, in recent years, of a burden on the KFTC, more efficient enforcement proceedings, and has sped up many M & A deals – while allowing companies doing business in Korea to more adequately gauge the risk of a certain actions by the company.

The disposition is similar, in a criminal matter, to a nolo contendere (no contest).  In short, the accused accepts the proposed punishment, however, doesn’t admit guilt. Thus, the company may save a little face and time, while the government is alleviated of most of the burden of having to investigate the alleged violation of law.

In order to apply for a “consent order proceeding,” the company involved should apply to the Korean FTC with a statement of the alleged conduct in question and a remedy for the alleged violation of the Korean Antitrust/Competition laws.

I assume any multinational company involved in any matters concerning the Korean FTC will know enough that they need to hire an experienced attorney in Korea prior to filing anything the KFTC.

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