03 August 2017
Fines could rise for firms that breach competition law
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is consulting on proposals to amend its penalties guidance, in response to lessons learned since its implementation in 2012.
The CMA says its proposed amendments will "enhance transparency and clarify specific aspects of the approach" to calculating fines for companies that breach competition law.
Under the new rules, financial penalties will take into account the seriousness of the infringement and the relevant turnover of the undertaking.
Adjustment will also be made for duration, aggravating or mitigating factors, and specific deterrence and proportionality.
If the maximum penalty exceeds 10% of the firm's worldwide turnover, adjustments will also be made.
Leniency, settlement discounts and any approval of a voluntary redress scheme will also be taken into account.
In the CMA's most recent annual report (2016/17), the regulating body states that it "sharply stepped up the pace, scale and impact" of its enforcement for the year.
The figures support this claim.
Between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, imposed fines amounted to £100 million. This figure was up £54 million from 2015/16, and shows an increase of more than 99% since 2014/15, when the total was just £740,000.
These results are set to further increase as post-Brexit measures are stepped up.
When Britain formally leaves the EU in March 2019, the CMA will become principal regulator of competition law, enhancing its abilities to impose and pursue fines. This responsibility formerly came under European Commission jurisdiction.