On 10th May 2019 the CMA secured the disqualification of three former directors of companies involved in a bid rigging cartel in the design, construction and fit-out services sector. The three directors have given legally binding disqualification undertakings under which they will be banned from acting as directors or being involved in the management of any UK company for periods ranging between two and five years. This is the third case in the last two months in which the CMA has secured director disqualifications, and sends a clear message that the CMA will be making greater use of these powers in the future.
The CMA recognises the importance of individual liability as a powerful deterrent. Under the current competition regime only the companies involved in infringements are liable for fines. Individuals can be liable for cartel conduct under the criminal cartel offence, but as the CMA’s success rate in convicting individuals under the offence has been low it is not surprising that the CMA is increasingly focusing on director disqualifications. Recent proposals for reform of the UK competition regime put forward by the CMA Chair to the Government also highlight the need for greater personal liability and consider the introduction of civil fines for individuals involved in breaches of competition law. The proposals are at an early stage but the Government is expected to publish a Green Paper for consultation by the end of July 2019.
Read the full briefing here.