Since June 2003, it has been a criminal offence in the UK for an individual to engage in certain forms of dishonest collusive conduct. The UK Office of Fair Trading (‘OFT’) and the Serious Fraud Office are empowered to investigate and prosecute such cases. At the same time, the OFT or the European Commission can investigate companies and impose significant multi-million pound fines for the anti-competitive actions of their personnel. Further afield, the United States Department of Justice (‘DoJ’) has, over the years, demonstrated a real appetite for investigating and prosecuting international cartels that impact on the US market. It is however, one area of law where criminal and civil immunity are available and where the potential benefits of swift and competent advice are dramatic.
This is a hugely expanding area of criminal enforcement and no company or individual can afford to ignore the potential liability for companies and executives doing business affecting UK market and foreign markets.
We are the UK’s leading criminal cartel firm, having acted in every major UK criminal cartel investigation and every global cartel in recent years. In the Marine Hose case, we represented two of the three defendants, including the first individual to be charged with the UK cartel offence. In the British Airways/Virgin prosecution, we successfully acted for two of the four defendants who were acquitted without any evidence being called. We have also successfully negotiated on behalf of clients with the DoJ, EC, Canadian Competition Bureau, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission and the Brazilian Competition Authorities. Our lawyers have been instrumental in developing the law and practice in this area and are recognised leading authorities. Our cartel lawyers include Michael O’Kane, author of the leading textbook on this subject ““The Law of Criminal Cartels-Practice and Procedure” (Oxford University Press 2009).
In addition, our civil practice acts on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health, the Prescription Pricing Authority and National Health Authorities in claims against a number of pharmaceutical companies for price fixing in relation to the supply of drugs to the NHS. To date. these claims have already successfully recovered £30 million for the NHS.
Our clients include national and multi-national companies, directors and senior executives in criminal immunity or enforcement investigation situations.
These investigations are normally conducted by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in the UK, and the US Department of Justice in tandem with a civil investigation by the European Commission.
In recent years, we have advised in the following markets: