The mission of the Antitrust Division is to promote economic competition through enforcing and providing guidance on antitrust laws and principles.
The goal of the antitrust laws is to protect economic freedom and opportunity by promoting free and fair competition in the marketplace.
Competition in a free market benefits American consumers through lower prices, better quality and greater choice. Competition provides businesses the opportunity to compete on price and quality, in an open market and on a level playing field, unhampered by anticompetitive restraints. Competition also tests and hardens American companies at home, the better to succeed abroad.
Federal antitrust laws apply to virtually all industries and to every level of business, including manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and marketing. They prohibit a variety of practices that restrain trade, such as price-fixing conspiracies, corporate mergers likely to reduce the competitive vigor of particular markets, and predatory acts designed to achieve or maintain monopoly power.
Antitrust Division Manual: Chapter II, Statutory Provisions and Guidelines of the Antitrust Division
The Division prosecutes certain violations of the antitrust laws by filing criminal suits that can lead to large fines and jail sentences. In other cases, the Division institutes a civil action seeking a court order forbidding future violations of the law and requiring steps to remedy the anticompetitive effects of past violations.
Many of the Division's accomplishments on these fronts are made possible by an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination with foreign antitrust enforcement agencies and with state attorneys general.
The Division provides guidance to the business community on antitrust laws, much of it jointly with the Federal Trade Commission. This guidance explains the boundaries of permissible conduct and may reduce uncertainty about the parameters of legal behavior. This saves money for both business and the government by helping companies to structure and organize their operations in accordance with the law. In order to receive guidance from the Division, a business must request a formal business review.
In addition to enforcing the antitrust laws, the Antitrust Division also acts as an advocate for competition, seeking to promote competition in sectors of the economy that are or may be subject to government regulation. These sectors include:
- Federally regulated industries, such as communications, banking, agriculture, securities, transportation, energy, and international trade.
- State or locally regulated industries, such as insurance, housing, health care, public utilities, professional and occupational licensing, certain aspects of banking, and real estate.
The Division's advocacy efforts include participation on Executive Branch policy-making task forces, preparation of testimony on legislative initiatives, publication of reports on regulated industry performance, and intervention in regulatory agency proceedings.
Antitrust Division Manual: Chapter V, Competition Advocacy