The Competitions and Markets Authority - which earlier this year fined an estate agency trade group £735,000 - has set out its most comprehensive statement yet on how it approaches the issues of cartels and anti-competitive practices.
A lengthy statement by the authority’s new executive director for enforcement, Michael Grenfell, does not mention the Three Counties Estate Agents Ltd case by name, but says his objectives for the CMA are:
- to put an end to anti-competitive agreements, arrangements and concerted practices, abuses of dominance, and criminal cartels;
- to penalise those who engage in such practices where appropriate; and
- to send a strong message of deterrence to others who might be tempted to do so.
Grenfell says a vital part of the enforcement process - which he believes has been aided by the CMA’s additional investment in intelligence-gathering and digital forensics - is down to individual cartel “whistle blowers.”
To this end, the authority has introduced what Grenfell calls “a leniancy programme” which provides incentives for those involved in cartels to expose their colleagues.
Grenfell also claims he hopes the authority will become faster at concluding cases, and will tackle more cases, although he acknowledges this will be down to resources.
However, he insists that complaints about anti-competitive practices are taken serious.
“We will carefully consider reasoned complaints that are made to us, in the light of our prioritisation criteria which take into account the strength of the case – that is, the likelihood of a successful outcome – along with considerations about the impact, the strategic significance and the resource costs of pursuing the case” he adds.
The full statement is here.