Lukewarm response to UK’s new price-fixing body
26 / 09 / 2012
ANTI-trust lawyers and business people are accusing the UK government of ‘widening the goal posts’ with its new regulating body, allowing it to more easily prosecute people for price-fixing.
The Competition Commission and the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are to merge to form the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Expected to come into force by April 2014, the streamlined CMA’s primary duty will be to promote effective competition and promote efficiency.
However, the proposed removal of the ‘dishonesty test’ so prosecutors will no longer have to prove that individuals acted dishonestly in criminal cartel cases has sparked controversy.
“This appears to be a blatant attempt by the government to widen the goal posts in the hope that the OFT’s scoring record in criminal cases will improve,” says Alastair Mordaunt, an anti-trust partner at the firm Clifford Chance and former director of mergers for the OFT.
The OFT’s first contested case of price-fixing against current and former executives of British Airways collapsed in May 2010 .