The Donnelly Act, which is New York’s main antitrust law, was written in 1899 and codified in §340-§347 of New York’s General Business Law. It is time for this act to be updated. Anti-trust/Competition Law in New York has not kept up with the times.
Prohibited Acts under New York’s Antitrust Law
The following are some actions prohibited under the present Donnelly Act:
- Price Fixing: wherein competitors agree to buy or sell goods or services at a fixed price;
- Bid Rigging: potential bidders agree to partition contract bids between them. The competitors control the bidding process by predetermining which bidder will bid for a contract and at what prices;
- Territorial and Customer Allocation: competitors agree to partition the territory, customers, and the market between them; and
- Boycotting: competitors agree to boycott the goods or services of an entity or where the competitors agree not to provide the consumers access to certain goods or services.
And although the New York Attorney General is active in investigating and prosecuting violations of antitrust law and violators are sued with civil fines, criminal fines and imprisonment. Many legal practitioners assisting startups and small & medium-sized business believe that the Donnelly Act is outdated and required change a long time ago.
Hence, when the New York Senate Standing Committee on Consumer Protection conducted a hearing on 14 September 2020, to tackle revising New York’s Antitrust Laws, many small and medium-sized business were pleased. This new bill affirms New York’s reputation as a place wherein small businesses have the ability to compete with large enterprises and conglomerates and consumers have access to many choices.
21st Century Antitrust Bill for New York
In essence, the Bill S8700A or more popularly known as 21st Century Antitrust Bill aims to expand the prohibited actions and to increase corresponding penalties. The following are some of the proposed revisions to the current New York Antitrust Law:
- 15 years in prison
The current antitrust law only punishes individual offenders up to four years of imprisonment. But in the new bill individual offenders may receive up to 15 years in jail;
- USD 1,000,000 fines
The current Antitrust Law in NY only makes individual offenders liable up to USD 100,000.00. But the new bill increases said amount up to USD 1 million;
- USD 100,000,000.00 fines
The current New York Antitrust Law only makes corporations liable up to USD 1 million. But the new bill increases said amount up to USD 100 million;
- Class Action
The current NY Antitrust Law provides that only the Attorney General may investigate and prosecute possible antitrust violations. But the new bill allows private litigation through class action;
- Unilateral Action
The current Antitrust Law requires two parties or competitors to connive or conspire in order to be considered to have violated the Antitrust law of New York. But the new bill would now allow the New York Attorney General to prosecute a company for their unilateral action of violating the antitrust law; and
- Five Years to File Lawsuit
The current NY Antitrust Law provides that any violation of this Antitrust Law shall be filed in court within three years from the commission of the alleged act. But the new bill extends the statute of limitations to five years.
Regularly check our blog we shall have follow-up articles on this issue when more is known.
And if you want to know more about Antitrust Law in New York, please: Schedule a Call with our New York Lawyer.
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