On 17 June 2014, Peter Snee, Managing Director of Franklin Hodge Industries, was convicted for his role in the fixing of prices on the market for water-storage tanks under the criminal cartel offence created by the 2002 Enterprise Act.
Mr Snee was charged by the Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") with "dishonestly agreeing with others to divide customers, fix prices and rig bids between 2004 and 2013, in respect of the supply in the UK of galvanised steel tanks for water storage". In February 2014, Mr Snee pleaded guilty to the charges at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court. The proceedings mark the first criminal prosecution in the UK for infringements of competition law in four years.
It should also be noted that, due to changes introduced by the UK Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which applies to infringements committed as of 1 April 2014, the criminal prosecution of individuals is no longer dependent on a requirement to prove dishonesty, which is likely to lead to more prosecutions in the future (see VBB on Competition Law Volume 2014, No. 3, available at www.vbb.com).
According to the CMA, in addition to the above criminal proceedings, a civil cartel investigation is also on-going into potential competition law infringements involving manufacturers of water tanks, including Franklin Hodge, Galgas, Kondea Water Supplies and CST Industries.
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