More than 100 construction companies in England have been issued a Statement of Objections (SO) by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) following one of the largest Competition Act investigations.
The OFT has alleged that the 112 construction companies named in the SO have engaged with bid rigging activities involving cover pricing. Companies involved include some of the UK’s largest construction firms such as Balfour Beatty and Carillion. It was reported yesterday that 40 of those companies had admitted price fixing with 37 asking for leniency.
Cover pricing arrangements have previously been found by the OFT and the Competition Appeal Tribunal to be illegal and in breach of the Competition Act 1998 due to the restrictions on competition that arise.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) chief executive Chris Blythe said in a statement released this morning: “This is obviously not the industry’s finest hour, and as a result this should be the end of cover pricing.
“This investigation is very damaging for the industry; it affects confidence and has the potential of diverting people from the real work being done to improve standards, safety, and ethical practice.”
“Clients of the industry are not the only ones to have suffered from bid-rigging, everyone suffers. Other construction companies who have been excluded by anti-competitive activity have been affected as well.”