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CAT reduces penalties in cover pricing appeals


Barrett Estate Services Ltd and Others v Office of Fair Trading [2011] CAT 9

On 24 March 2011, the Competition Appeal Tribunal ("the CAT") handed down judgment on appeals against the OFT's decision on bid rigging in the construction industry dated 21 September 2009 (the "Decision") brought by a number of appellants including:

• Barrett Estate Services Ltd and Francis Construction Ltd (together "Francis");
• GAJ Construction Ltd and GAJ (Holdings) Ltd (together "GAJ");
• Hobson & Porter Ltd; and
• JH Hallam (R&J) Ltd and JH Hallam (Contracts) Ltd (together "JH Hallam")

In its judgment, the CAT found that the OFT had erred in calculating the level of penalties imposed on the appellants, in particular by using the last business year prior to the Decision for determining relevant turnover rather than using the business year prior to the infringement.

Accordingly, the CAT concluded that the total penalties imposed should be reduced to:

• Francis - £ 169,575, a 68% reduction;
• GAJ - £42,750, a 61% reduction;
• Hobson & Porter - £123,750, a 78% reduction;
• JH Hallam - £99,000, a 72% reduction.

The judgment is here.

Aidan Robertson QC acted for Francis, GAJ, Hobson & Porter and JH Hallam.

Kelyn Bacon and Sarah Ford acted for the OFT in the Francis and GAJ appeals.