The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) is a vibrant and important voice for our industry before Congress, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Maritime Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Maritime Organization, and other national and international regulatory bodies. In order for OMSA to fulfill this legitimate purpose, its members must be able to freely exchange ideas and discuss issues of legitimate concern to the industry. At the same time, however, the antitrust laws strictly limit the types of agreements competitors may have with each other. For instance, agreements among competitors to fix prices, limit the volume of production, rig bids, or share or divide markets by allocating customers, territories, or product lines deprive customers of the benefits of competition and result in automatic antitrust violations.
OMSA members, therefore, must be cognizant of their obligation to comply with the antitrust laws whenever attending an OMSA meeting, and should be sensitive to how their remarks might be interpreted by others to avoid even any appearance of impropriety. Significantly, under the antitrust laws, there are some subjects which are not proper for discussion at any time because they may result in an antitrust problem even when no one intended to do anything wrong. Therefore, to make certain that OMSA members do not run afoul of the antitrust laws, OMSA prohibits its members from engaging in any of the following activities in connection with its meetings or the meetings of any of its committees:
1. Agreeing to fix or maintain prices, rates, fees, profit margins, credit terms, allowances, and other terms and conditions of sale;
2. Participating in meetings or conversations during which future or current prices, rates, fees, profit margins, credit terms, allowances, and other terms and conditions of sale are discussed directly or indirectly;
3. Exchanging information about future or current prices, rates, fees, profit margins, credit terms, allowances, and other terms and conditions of sale to be charged or offered for marine services;
4. Agreeing to withhold patronage or services from any supplier or customer, any actual or potential competitor, or any government entity;
5. Agreeing to allocate markets, customers, or areas of operation, or to classify customers as preferred or non-preferred;
These activities are prohibited whether they occur in a formal meeting, during a break between meetings, or in a social context.
The list also represents only a general statement of the types of activities which must be avoided. If you have any questions about whether a particular issue is one which may be properly discussed at a meeting, be sure to seek the advice of counsel before proceeding.