Higher UK Anti-trust Fines on the way


The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published revised fining guidelines on 10 September 20121. Following recent judgments of the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) which substantially reduced fines imposed by the OFT, the OFT has now given itself freedom to impose higher fines.

In particular, the OFT has increased the starting point for determining the level of fine from a maximum of 10% of relevant turnover to a maximum of 30% of relevant turnover and added an additional step for adjustment for deterrence or proportionality. This change is motivated by the OFT’s desire to ensure that anti-competitive behaviour in markets which account for only a small percentage of a group’s sales can nevertheless be set at a level which the OFT believes provides sufficient deterrence. The net effect is likely to be that businesses will face higher fines if they commit infringements, and, until a body of case law on the new guidelines develops, the amount of fine in a given case will be even more difficult to reliably predict.

The new guidelines are effective immediately, including to existing investigations which have not yet progressed to a statement of objections.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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