A cartel is an illegal agreement between two or more competitors not to compete with each other. The sole purpose of cartels, which usually involve a secret conspiracy, is to make more profit at the expense of their customers. As such, they are a crime against consumers. They cause consumers to pay more for goods and services than they otherwise would have paid. There are different types of cartels:
These types of agreements are crimes; they breach section 4 of the Competition Act, and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, formerly Article 81 of the EU Treaty.
Where we get enough evidence to show that a cartel may exist, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission ('the CCPC') will submit a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with a recommendation that the parties involved be prosecuted on indictment. Competition offences committed after 1st July 2002 are prosecuted on indictment in the Central Criminal Court. In those circumstances, where the CCPC does not believe that the allegations warrant prosecution on indictment, the CCPC may itself bring a summary prosecution in the District Court.
Businesses and individuals found guilty of hard-core cartel offences face a number of penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
Businesses and individuals convicted of cartel offences face a number of penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
The sanction of imprisonment applies only to hardcore cartels. Other competition offences prosecuted in the criminal courts are subject only to the fines described above.
Click here for cases which have been prosecuted in the criminal courts.