CMA – The story that refuses to die

In a recent interview with Building magazine, newly-appointed NFDC CEO Duncan Ruddal said: “I’m not going to keep recapping over the CMA. I’m a new CEO and I will draw a line in the sand on the issue at some point.”

That point, apparently, has not yet been reached. Following the publication of the full 72-page report that threw a spotlight of the murky goings on involving 10 members of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors, two of those companies have elected to appeal, ensuring that the bid rigging scandal will remain very much in the media headlines for some time to come.

Construction News is reporting that Keltbray and Squibb have appealed to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, claiming the watchdog made errors.

Legal documents submitted by Keltbray state that it accepts it committed eight infringements of competition law but believes the penalty imposed on it was “assessed on a flawed basis” and is “disproportionate to the seriousness and impact” of its involvement.

Keltbray believes that the “CMA erred by calculating a penalty on the basis of turnover consisting of all of Keltbray’s turnover for demolition and/or asbestos removal services. It should have restricted the turnover calculation to the value of the small number of contracts associated with the infringement”.

Legal documents submitted by Squibb state that the CMA recognised the firm was involved in a “small number of infringements” compared with other fined contractors.

Squibb was initially accused of three infringements, two in relation to cover bidding and one in relation to a compensation payment agreement, but the CMA dropped its case over the payment agreement after Squibb mounted a defence.

Rather than a £3.0 million fine, Squibb was ultimately fined £2.0 million.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has granted the CMA permission to file one response to both appeals. This is due by 15 September.