COMPANY formation specialist, Oswalds, a Jordans Group company, is predicting stricter cartel enforcement under the new competition law watchdog.
Says a spokesperson: “The formation of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which this month took over responsibility for enforcement of UK competition law from the Office of Fair Trading, coincided with the removal of the requirement to prove ‘dishonesty’ from the cartel offence.”
Oswalds director, Andrew Cockburn, pointed that, as well as substantial civil fines for the companies involved, there has always been the possibility of a criminal prosecution for individuals involved in any unlawful cartel practice, such as price fixing, sharing markets or bid rigging.
He said: “One of the hurdles that the prosecution had to overcome was to show that the individual cartel participant had acted ‘dishonestly’.
“This hurdle has been one of the main reasons why, to date, there has only be one successful prosecution of individuals for the cartel offence.
“Its removal is therefore likely to make successful prosecutions of individuals far more likely.”
Cockburn noted that, as with any new watchdog, the CMA will be seeking to make an early impact, which will no doubt be assisted by the additional £12 million in funds in 2014-5 it will receive to help it deal more effectively with cartels.
He added: “All this, together with the removal of the ‘dishonestly’ hurdle, is likely to signify an increase in the number of cartel investigations resulting both in more civil fines for companies and more criminal prosecutions for individuals.
“It’s fair to say that many of the civil fines imposed to date upon companies involved in cartel activities stem from a lack of awareness that the particular activity was unlawful rather than deliberate dishonesty.
“More than ever now, businesses and their directors need to comply with competition law and make sure that all relevant staff are aware of what constitutes unlawful cartel activity and what should be done if they come across it.”
Part of the Jordans Group, Edinburgh-based Oswalds provides Scottish clients within the legal, accountancy and wider professional business communities with direct access to a comprehensive range of expertise and services throughout the UK.
For further information please contact Andrew Cockburn at Oswalds tel 0131 557 6966
Issued on behalf of Oswalds by Liquorice Media tel 0141 297 1699. www.liquorice-media.com
Date: 16th May 2014
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