The definition of the criminal offence committed by individuals agreeing to enter a cartel was set out in Section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002 and was described as having two limbs.
- Firstly, an individual must be shown to have agreed with another person to make or implement an arrangement between at least two undertakings to fix prices, limit supply or production, share customers, share supply or to enter into bid-rigging arrangements.
- Secondly the individual in question must have made any such agreement dishonestly.
Having been originally introduced in 2002 the act has since been amended with effect from April 2014 to remove the requirement to prove dishonesty. The consequence of this amendment is that there may well be subsequently more criminal investigations and prosecutions of this offence.
The way in which the cartel offence works means that it will only apply to individual’s, for example, employees or directors of companies. Any such individual who may have committed the Cartel Offence are vulnerable to a criminal investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority or the Serious Fraud Office. Consequently, there is a risk of personal criminal liability meaning any employee or director accused of cartel like behaviour should see it vital to take specialist criminal law advice at the earliest opportunity.
Linking to the topic of the Cartel Offence is the topic of Price Fixing. Price Fixing disrupts the normal supply and laws of demand allowing a monopoly effect to take place and give an edge over rival competitors. The results and elements of Price fixing have no benefit to the consumer and tactics used usually result in the consumer paying more, this being one of the key reasons as to why the practice is illegal.
If you have been contacted to attend an interview under caution or are under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office or the CMA, please do not hesitate to contact this firm for advice and assistance.
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