84% reduction of fines for 25 firms will stand

The OFT will not appeal a total of 25 judgments by the Competition Appeal Tribunal against the watchdog, which slashed fines levied on construction firms by 84%.

The decision means the £66m reduction in fines imposed on firms for use of anti-competitive cover pricing will stand.

The OFT said it would not appeal the huge reductions because it believes construction has now cleaned up its act.

But the watchdog admitted it would re-examine its tactics after it was criticised by CAT for its heavy-handed approach.

Every contractor that appealed its fines had them reduced by up to 94% or written-off entirely.

Last week the OFT ruled out an appeal against a reduction in penalties imposed on construction recruitment companies, from £39.27m to £14m.

In a statement the OFT said: “The OFT’s decisions not to appeal have been influenced by the fact that substantial deterrence and change has already been achieved by the two cases.

“An independent evaluation has shown that the OFT’s enforcement action resulted in behavioural change and increasing awareness of competition law in the construction sector, and industry bodies have since launched initiatives to encourage compliance with the law.

“The OFT recognises that the judgments raise some issues for it to consider about how it carries out its enforcement work, and in particular how it sets penalties.”