Self-employed actors cannot collectively bargain

August 31, 2004

Outcome of investigation

Following a Competition Authority (Authority) investigation, Irish Actors’ Equity SIPTU and the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (the Institute) undertook not to enter into or implement any agreement that fixes the fees that the Institute, or its members, pay self-employed actors.

It is legal for a trade union to represent employees in collective bargaining with their employers. However when a trade union acts as a trade association for self-employed independent contractors, it may be caught by competition law.

Outline of case

In March 2003 the Authority initiated an investigation into possible price fixing among self-employed actors and advertising agencies. An agreement between Irish Actors’ Equity SIPTU on behalf of the actors, and the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, on behalf of advertising agencies, provided both specific fees for services rendered and various other terms and conditions.

The Authority considered most actors to be independent contractors and therefore undertakings subject to Competition law.

Competition law generally forbids all agreements that prevent, restrict or distort competition. Competition law specifically prohibits “agreements…which directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions….”

Prior to the commencement of legal proceedings, the Parties expressed their willingness to address the Authority’s competition concerns. The Parties signed undertakings not to enter into or implement any agreement that directly or indirectly fixes the fees that the Institute or its members pay self-employed actors in return for services rendered. The Authority therefore closed its investigation. To learn more on this case read our Irish Actors’ Equity Enforcement Decision .

Also relevant is our Notice on Activities of Trade Associations and Compliance with Competition Law which provides information and practical guidance for trade associations and their members regarding competition law.

Relevant provision

Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002

Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

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