THE UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned construction business leaders that ‘ignorance is no excuse’ in regard to competition rules.
It comes following fines of £67 million being handed out over recent years to firms across five competition law cases. Further to the monetary penalties, 11 directors were disqualified as a result of the rulings.
The CMA said, “We’re urging the wider industry to take note to avoid making similar mistakes and are reminding company directors of their responsibility to lead by example and be aware of how their organisation is operating.
“Healthy competition benefits customers, the economy and law-abiding businesses. It is crucial for construction firms and their directors to be clear on competition rules and abide by them.”
By being the first to make a report, a business can benefit from the CMA’s leniency programme and avoid fines, director disqualifications and criminal prosecution – provided it co-operates fully with the investigation.
However, the CMA said that it does not rely on this to uncover wrongdoing. It has strong powers of investigations, including undertaking searches under warrant at both company and domestic premises. In one of the recent cases, covert recordings were used to evidence illegal cartel conduct.
The CMA added, “Business leaders have a special responsibility to be well informed about what is happening within the companies they govern. If your business does wrong, you are accountable. Ignorance is no excuse.
“As directors, you set the tone for how your organisation operates. You need to lead by example and have zero tolerance for illegal behaviour. You should ensure that everyone who works for you is not only clear on competition rules but is under strict instructions to abide by them.”
Further details on competition rules can be found on the CMA’s dedicated campaign page.