Competition body to “consider” appeals tribunal decision to cut bid-rigging fines by 90%

The Office of Fair Trading has said it is considering appealing against the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s decision to slash the fines imposed on six companies accused of bid-rigging by 90%

In a decision handed down at 4pm today, the CAT found that the OFT fines were “excessive” for the nature of the offence, and that a formula had been applied “mechanistically” without concern to the specific details of the case.

The OFT said it will consider whether to appeal the decision. In a statement issued after the tribunal decision, it said: “Today’s judgment was limited to the level of penalty for these six companies, who did not challenge our finding that they engaged in illegal cover pricing, in breach of competition law.

“The right to appeal against the OFT’s decisions in Competition Act cases is an integral part of the competition regime and an important safeguard for parties.

“The OFT will consider this judgment in detail, alongside those in the 19 other construction cases yet to be determined, and will consider whether it should appeal to the Court of Appeal.

“Financial penalties play a key role in deterring the companies involved, and other businesses, from breaching competition law. The OFT will consider whether the judgment has any implications for its practices and policies for ensuring a high level of compliance with competition law in the future.”