Modern ordinary business enterprises must beware of contravening the law in ways that might have seemed only “sharp practice” in earlier times. Particular attention must be paid to ensure that there is no inadvertent contravention of the laws against bribery, anti-competitive behaviour and money laundering.


See Fraud: Money-laundering


(- see Crime: Corruption – the Bribery Act 2010 makes certain activities CRIMINAL FROM 1ST JULY 2011. This is wider than the common law concerning bribery, and extents to bribery abroad by UK businesses)

A recent survey by professional services firm Ernst & Young finding that one employee in seven from large UK companies was prepared to offer cash payments to secure business.

Even Barristers have even been warned (Read More)  that they risk prosecution for offering to share their fees to compete with poor quality Solicitor Advocates ( – this does not apply to “In House” advocates ) (Fee Sharing and Referral Fees Crime Dec10 )


The Competition Act 1998  In the UK anti-competitive behaviour is prohibited in two main ways:  Anti-competitive agreements (e.g. cartels ) between businesses are prohibited by Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 81 of the EC Treaty Abuse of a dominant position in a market is prohibited by Chapter II of CA98 and Article 82 of the EC Treaty.  Competition law is enforced in the UK principally by the OFT However, in certain industries (communications, gas, electricity, water and sewerage, railway and air traffic services) the sector regulators have been given ‘concurrent powers’ to apply and enforce CA98 and Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty.

Enforcement by the “OFT” The Office of Fair Trading has a wide range of powers to investigate businesses suspected of breaching these laws and we can take enforcement action, for example ordering that offending agreements or conduct be stopped. It is essential to seek legal advice if requests for information are received from the OFT

Businesses that break the law can be fined up to 10% of their worldwide turnover and third parties (including injured competitors, customers and consumer groups) can bring damages claims against them. In addition, individuals found to be involved in cartels can be fined and imprisoned for up to five years and directors of companies that breach the prohibitions can be disqualified for up to 15 years.

The OFT currently [1] has 16 Competition Act or criminal cartel cases open.


[1] 11/2/12