On Friday 11 March 2011, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) handed down judgment in six of the appeals against the fines imposed by the OFT in the Construction Bid Rigging cases. Although this leaves the results of nineteen of the appeals still to be handed down, the initial six decisions are great news for the construction industry.
The CAT reduced the penalties for all six appellants by significant margins:-
- Kier Group plc and Kier Regional Limited saw their original total penalty of £17,894,438 reduced to £1,700,000.
- Ballast Nedam N.V’s original total penalty of £8,333,116 was reduced to £534,375.
- Bowmer and Kirkland Limited and B&K Property Services Limited saw a reduction from their original total penalty of £7,574,736 to £1,524,000.
- Corringway Conclusions plc saw its original total penalty of £769,592 reduced to £119,344.
- Thomas Vale Holdings Limited and Thomas Vale Construction Limited had their original total penalty of £1,020,473 reduced to £171,000.
- John Sisk & Son Limited and Sicon Limited saw an enormous reduction from their original total penalty of £6,191,627 to just £356,250.
One of the key points from the decision so far is that the CAT concluded that the penalties imposed for “simple” cover pricing were excessive given the nature of the infringement and in particular bearing in mind that it was a practice that had been longstanding in the construction industry and was widely regarded as legitimate.
In a statement issued on Friday, the OFT stated:
“The OFT will consider this judgment in detail, alongside those in the 19 other construction cases yet to be determined, and will consider whether it should appeal to the Court of Appeal”.
There is no indication yet of when the remaining nineteen decisions will be handed down, but, bearing in mind the level of the reductions in the penalties and the comments from the OFT, this is clearly not the end of the story – watch this space!
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