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Thursday, 25 June 2015

CMA statement following completion of criminal cartel prosecution - News stories - GOV.UK

The CMA has published a statement on the conclusion of a criminal cartel prosecution - the goods invoved being galvanised steel water tanks. Two defendants were acquitted because the jury took the view that they did not enter into the arrangement dishonestly, a threshold requirement which has made the cartel offence difficult to prosecute (as, arguably, it should be), and which has therefore been removed for prosecutions after 1 April 2014.

One defendant had already pleaded guilty, so on the face of it there was a cartel with one member ... Actually the way the law works, the better view (nay, the correct view) is that there was a cartel with at least three members but only one of them was going about price-fixing, market-sharing and bid-rigging dishonestly. No, I don't understand either, and perhaps that change in the law is not as nonsensical as it looks. Or, at least, a one-person cartel is a bigger nonsense than an offence with no requirement for dishonesty, and perhaps price-fixing etc are simply not activities that can be undertaken honestly - though what about "crisis cartels" which have been permissible under general competition rules? The dishonesty requirement would have been a get-out for a crisis cartel, but now that helpful safety valve has been closed.

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