The criminal investigation process for the cartel offence
Produced in partnership with Kingsley Napley
The criminal investigation process for the cartel offence

The following Competition guidance note Produced in partnership with Kingsley Napley provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The criminal investigation process for the cartel offence
  • The relationship between the CMA and the SFO
  • Powers to require documents
  • Offences relating to the investigatory stages
  • Interviews
  • Parallel civil and criminal investigations

BREXIT: The law and practice referred to in this Practice Note may be impacted by Brexit. For further information on the potential impact, see: The effect of Brexit on UK competition law in a deal or no deal scenario.

Section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002 makes it a criminal offence for an individual to agree with one or more other persons that two or more undertakings will engage in certain prohibited cartel arrangements. This includes price-fixing, market-sharing, limitation of production or supply and bid-rigging. The offence applies in respect of agreements both to make or implement such arrangements and also to cause such arrangements to be made or implemented. The criminal offence will be committed irrespective of whether the agreement reached is actually implemented by the undertakings. There are a number of defences available. See further, The UK criminal cartel offence

The relationship between the CMA and the SFO

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will exercise its powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to investigate individuals suspected of involvement in a criminal cartel. In theory, such an investigation will take place in close co-operation with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). However in reality, the CMA will take the lead.

The CMA has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SFO which records the basis on which they will