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Cartels are formed when multiple businesses agree together to act in way that restricts competition. They may agree not to compete with each other. Or they may between themselves fix the price of products or services, rig bids, or agree to divide and share the market between themselves. These types of cartel agreements are unlawful and at worst criminal. This area is regulated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who may also prosecute. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) can also bring criminal prosecutions for cartels. Prosecutions are taken under the Enterprise Act 2002.
It is vital to understand that the company itself cannot be prosecuted under the Enterprise Act 2002 for involvement in a cartel. Rather, it is the individuals allegedly involved – the directors, the senior officers and employees – that are liable to an investigation and prosecution. The target is those that have allegedly agreed to operate a cartel. Whilst companies are not prosecuted, they can be made subject to civil enforcement action If you or your company are facing investigation for allegedly running a cartel, seeking appropriate, skilled legal advice is very important.
If you are concerned that you have become involved in cartel activity, or are worried that you might be investigated or prosecuted for being involved in cartel activity, then you should contact lawyers urgently. We will need to assess your options swiftly so that we can offer the best possible advice.
Depending on your circumstances, you have a number of potential options available to you and it is vital to have a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to walk you through the different possibilities. If you are facing a potential or an actual investigation by the CMA then please contact us urgently for assistance. Our business crime experts are able to provide immediate assistance.
We can draw on our long standing business crime and fraud expertise to provide very effective and successful representation with a CMA investigation or prosecution.
R v Stringer
Our Joint Head of the Financial Crime and Regulatory Team – Kiran Mehta – acted for this defendant in the first ever prosecution by the CMA for cartel activity. He acted throughout the investigation stage, all the way through to trial, securing an acquittal for the defendant. The case received heavy publicity, becoming a very public failure for the CMA.
Our top ranking team have years of experience representing the innocent. We stand up to the prosecution who will always be represented by an experienced solicitor or barrister. We know how to fight and win cases.
Representing you at the Police Station or in Court If you need urgent representation call us today. Share a few details with us and we’ll let you know how we can help you.
If you are calling outside our offices hours (9:30am to 5:30pm) call our free phone 24 telephone 0844 8480 222. There will always be someone at the other end of the telephone to assist you.
The CMA Leniency Regime allows for lenient treatment in return for proper disclosure of cartel activity. If you are concerned that you have been involved in cartel activity or are worried you may be investigated, we can move to take your account of events and analyse relevant material you hold to establish your situation. If appropriate, we can advise you on the CMA leniency regime and whether it is in your best interests to make a disclosure to the CMA in order to instigate this procedure. Whether such disclosure should be made to the CMA, the nature of the disclosure and its timing are complex questions that require careful analysis. These require careful consideration and advice from an experienced CMA lawyer.
Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that you may have a number of leniency options available to you. This can include a full immunity from prosecution for an individual and substantial discounts for any fines payable for a company. When deciding whether to avail yourself of the leniency options it is vital that you have an experienced lawyer to carefully consider your circumstances to decide whether a leniency option is best for you, or – in the event of a criminal investigation or prosecution – what your prospects of success are. This requires careful analysis of the circumstances including any evidence that the CMA have or are likely to have.
A particular concern for clients will be trying to ensure immunity from a criminal prosecution. A cartel involves the complicity of more than individual. If you are one of those individuals and make the first disclosure before anyone else and before the CMA have commenced an investigation, then the CMA can grant full criminal immunity automatically. It is, however, based on observation and compliance with numerous requirements. It is, therefore, vital to have legal advice for this. Similarly, where the aforementioned does not apply, it is still possible to secure an immunity from prosecution. The CMA has a discretion in certain circumstances. Legal advice from an experienced CMA lawyer is, therefore, imperative.
Depending on the industry or sector in which the concern about anti-competitive behaviour arises, your regulator may also become involved. At HJA, we have a combined financial crime and regulatory lawyer team. The frequency of occurrence of parallel criminal and regulatory action means it makes sense to offer a lawyer who can provide parallel advice and representation. Hodge, Jones & Allen Solicitors can provide this unique service. There are also cost benefits for you in having the same lawyer handle all aspects of any parallel criminal and regulatory matter.
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