An open letter issued by the Competition and Markets Authority has served as a timely reminder of its powers and the consequences that can be felt when competition law is breached.
The CMA refer to a recent case involving modelling agencies and their representative body, in which it was found that they had colluded as to the prices they charged for their services. Fines in excess of £1.5m were handed out, as it was decided that their activity amounted to a serious breach of competition law.
In the letter, the CMA states that it will ‘…investigate businesses in all industries….if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the law is being broken.’ Legally, the CMA can, amongst other things:
- Issue a Notice of Investigation;
- Obtain a Warrant to inspect premises;
- Request information and documents;
- Interview an individual involved in the business (remember a legal advisor can be present on your behalf Penalties for businesses can be severe, and include:
- Fines of up to 10% of its annual turnover;
- Directors can be disqualified from running a company for up to 15 years;
- Prison sentences for individuals convicted of serious anti-competition offences
It’s much easier to get things right first time, so if you have any queries in relation to the issues raised in this article, or anticipate that your business may come under scrutiny, contact us without delay. The CMA is able to publicly name businesses it is investigating, which can have obvious consequences for its reputation.
For expert advice and assistance, contact Ison Harrison on 0113 284 5000.