In the current regulatory environment, it is important for contractors to remain vigilant of heightened anti-competitive enforcement in the construction and procurement spheres by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Such vigilance should include, among other things, regular review of applicable laws and implementation of related updates to compliance policies, as well as careful evaluation of joint venture (JV), subcontractor, and teaming agreements.
Recent DOJ Activity Opens The Door To Broader Antitrust Exposure For Contractors
Many contractors include exclusivity and non-compete clauses in their vertical agreements, including subcontractor agreements and certain types of JV and teaming agreements. In fact, many widely available “checklists” for drafting these agreements recommend including such provisions; however, under U.S. antitrust law, particularly as enforced by the DOJ in the last 1-2 years, exclusivity and non-compete clauses may be construed as unduly competition-restricting. Although no court has yet held that exclusivity and non-compete clauses in vertical agreements violate antitrust laws, recent aggressive enforcement activity by the DOJ with regard to horizontal no-poach agreements suggests that the investigatory headwinds may be blowing in that direction.
Reprinted courtesy of John F. Finnegan, III, Watt, Tieder, Hoffar, & Fitzgerald, LLP (ConsensusDocs) and Dominick Weinkam, Watt, Tieder, Hoffar, & Fitzgerald, LLP (ConsensusDocs)
Mr. Finnegan may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Weinkam may be contacted at email@example.com