You never know who’s listening – the CMA’s latest enforcement activity

Published on
1 min read

Hot on the heels of our In-house In Focus programme this month focusing on competition law, the Competition and Markets Authority (or CMA) has announced a total of £36 million fines for three construction firms’ breach of competition law. 

This is a latest in a series of enforcement measures the CMA has taken in the construction sector.  Perhaps more interestingly is this is the second publicised example of the CMA using its investigatory powers to bug meetings at which businesses took part in illegal cartel activity.  The CMA recorded senior executives from three concrete drainage product manufacturers agreeing to fix or coordinate prices, share the market by allocating customers and exchange competitively sensitive information. 

At the time of the infringements (2006 – 2013) the firms were leading players in the market.  Not only do these businesses now face paying these fines, they may also find themselves liable to customers, e.g. large infrastructure projects, engineering and constructions firms, and utility providers, for any losses they have suffered as a result of the anti-competitive behaviour. 

Points to note

This is a further reminder to businesses of the CMA’s willingness to investigate and punish illegal cartel behaviour generally. It also serves as a warning about evidence gathering methods. The CMA will not hesitate to use techniques like covert recording techniques to identify unlawful activity.  

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