Penalties in UK competition cases
Penalties in UK competition cases

The following Competition practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Penalties in UK competition cases
  • Imposing a penalty on an undertaking
  • Exceptions to fines
  • The small business exception
  • Steps to determine the amount of penalty
  • Calculation of the starting point
  • Adjustment for duration
  • Adjustment for aggravating
  • Adjustment for mitigating factors
  • Adjustment for specific deterrence and proportionality
  • More...

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and sectoral regulators with concurrent competition powers may impose fines of up to 10% of turnover on an undertaking that is found to have violated a provision of UK competition law (namely, the Chapter I and II prohibitions of the Competition Act 1998) (until 31 December 2020, the CMA could also issue fines at the same level for breaches of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU).

The maximum penalty is calculated by reference to the undertaking’s worldwide turnover in the last business year—the maximum fine that the CMA (or sector regulators with concurrent competition enforcement powers) can impose is 10% of an undertaking's worldwide turnover. In imposing penalties, the CMA (and sectoral regulators) will be guided by the principle that the penalty must be proportionate to both the relevant turnover (ie turnover derived from the product to which the infringement relates) and the total turnover (ie turnover of all products of the undertaking).

The aims of the penalty regime are to:

  1. impose penalties on infringing undertakings which reflect the seriousness of the infringement, and

  2. ensure there is a deterrent effect, to deter both the infringing undertakings and other undertakings.

The CMA published revised guidance on its approach to setting penalties in April 2018.

For a breakdown of all cartel fines issued by the CMA and former OFT under the 2012 revised fining guidelines,

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