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Competition Law

The basic purpose of competition law is to ensure the fair operation of markets for goods and services. A key element in this involves ensuring that businesses do not collude with each other at the consumers' expense.

It a criminal offence for individuals to dishonestly take part in certain cartels, essentially those that involve price fixing, market sharing, limitation of production or supply, or bid rigging.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

The (CMA) is responsible for investigating businesses suspected of breaching competition law as well as being generally responsible for making markets work well for consumers. They seek to achieve this by promoting and protecting consumer interests throughout the UK, while ensuring that businesses are fair and competitive.


The CMA have a range of sanctions available which may be applied against businesses which do not comply with the requirements. Taking action against cartels is one of the CMA's priorities;

  • Any business found to be a member of a cartel could be fined up to 10 per cent of its worldwide turnover.
  • Anyone convicted of the criminal offence of taking part in a cartel could receive a maximum of five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

The CMA is, however, prepared to offer lenient treatment to businesses or individuals that come forward with information about a cartel in which they are involved.

CMA guidance documents and leaflets

The CMA publish a comprehensive range of Guidance Documents and Leaflets, which are available to view online. Their series of "guides" provide useful summaries of areas of the law and CMA practice.

Digital resources for ICAEW members

The Library's digital resources for members enables reference to (among other sources) Butterworths Competition Law Service. For information about using this service, please contact the Library & Information Service.