CMA – Far from over

It took fully four years for the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate bid-rigging and price fixing in the UK demolition industry. Four years until the guilty were named; four years until fines of nearly £60 million were handed down to the 10 NFDC member companies involved.

But it will be more than five years until the whole sorry business is finally laid to rest.

Both Keltbray and Squibb Group have appealed the CMA findings; and we now know that their cases will be heard jointly at a tribunal in spring next year.

Following a case-management hearing, the start date for the main hearings has been set for 25 April next year, with the case expected to last for seven days.

During the hearing, the tribunal chair rejected a bid by Squibb’s lawyers to restrict the availability of key documents in the case. Squibb is appealing on the basis that the CMA made mistakes in defining the relevant markets affected and the type of work Squibb was involved with.

Late last week, we reported that Squibb Group had filed for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which raises the question of what of the company might still be here in April next year.

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

Back in August of this year, incoming NFDC CEO Duncan Rudall said in an interview that he would draw a line in the sand [on the CMA issue] at some point. That line drawing remains a long way off.