OFT accuses recruitment companies of breaching competition law in supply of candidates to construction firms

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has accused eight recruitment firms of price fixing over the supply of candidates to construction firms, in the latest competition scandal to hit the construction sector.

The OFT alleges that the firms, which include recruitment giants Hays Specialist Recruitment and CDI AndersElite, have been involved in breaching competition law by:

  • fixing target fee rates for the supply of candidates to certain construction companies and intermediaries
  • a collective boycott of entering into contracts with a particular intermediary for the supply of candidates to construction companies in the UK, in order to restrict competition for the supply of skills.

The OFT alleges that the breach took place between late 2004 and the end of 2005 or early 2006, with the exact duration of each individual agency's involvement in the infringement varying between firms.

John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, said: “For a market to work well, companies should compete to supply services and set prices independently. If we find evidence of anti-competitive activity we will use the appropriate powers to punish the companies involved. If proven, the alleged practices in this case would amount to a serious breach of the law.”

The eight companies accused of the breach are:

  • A Warwick Associates
  • Beresford Blake Thomas
  • CDI AndersElite
  • Eden Brown
  • Fusion People
  • Hays Specialist Recruitment
  • Henry Recruitment
  • Hill McGlynn Associates.