Brown & Mason boss fails in attempt to stay in post

The High Court has refused an application by a director to remain in post after being disqualified by the Competition and Markets Authority for his role in the bid-rigging scandal.

Nicholas Brown, the former managing director of Brown and Mason, one of 10 firms fined last year by the cartel-buster, was disqualified from being a director last May with his ban due to start on 28 July last year.

As well as bid-rigging, five of the 10 firms were also found guilty of making and receiving “compensation payments” under which, the CMA said, “the designated ‘losers’ of the contracts were set to be compensated by the winner”. Brown and Mason was one of the firms found guilty of receiving such payments.


Brown & Mason was one of 10 firms fined last year by the CMA after a probe into bid-rigging

Brown, currently managing director of the Brown and Mason Group, and before managing director of Brown and Mason for five years until it went into administration in September 2020, joined three others in receiving a disqualification.

But last July he applied to the High Court for permission to continue to act as a director and to be involved in the management of Brown and Mason Group, and its holding company NRLB Limited, on the basis that the companies needed his continued services as a director.

Today, the High Court issued its judgment refusing Brown’s application with, the CMA added, “the court saying that, in view of the circumstances – including the nature and seriousness of Mr Brown’s behaviour – and the importance of director disqualification in the CMA’s enforcement toolkit, granting an exemption from Mr Brown’s disqualification would not be appropriate. The Court concluded that granting leave in this case ‘would be an overly great intrusion into the public benefit of this disqualification’.”

Juliette Enser, the CMA’s senior director of cartels, said: “Director disqualifications are a key tool for protecting the public – and making sure those at the top of the chain are held responsible if their companies breach competition law.

“Personal consequences, such as director disqualification, are a powerful deterrent – something which the Court’s decision clearly recognises. By rejecting Mr Brown’s request, the Court’s judgment has shown that protecting the public should not be undermined.”

The CMA said Brown is allowed to stay in post at Brown and Mason Group and NRLB “subject to strict conditions for a run-off period expiring on 28 July 2024 to enable transition at the companies”. His director ban runs until 29 July 2030.

In its latest set of results, Brown & Mason said it had appointed a non-executive director responsible for compliance to its board in the wake of the CMA investigation.