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Impending changes to the scope of the UK criminal cartel offence, which come into effect on 1 April, will remove the existing requirement that individuals must be shown to have acted dishonestly before they can be convicted of the offence. While ostensibly designed to make it easier for the OFT, and its successor the Competition and Markets Authority, to prosecute individuals for hard core cartel activity, the way in which the offence is drafted means that, from 1 April, it may also catch perfectly benign commercial activities, potentially including insurance activities in the subscription market, co-insurance and co-reinsurance. Although the government introduced a number of exclusions and defences to address such concerns, the scope of these remains unclear and they may not be available in all cases. Given the serious consequences of prosecution and conviction, including imprisonment for up to five years, it is important that businesses and their employees understand the new, wider scope of the law and the available defences.
Dorothy Livingston (Herbert Smith Freehills) specialises in all aspects of European Union and UK competition law including mergers, market investigations, anti-competitive behaviour, and state aids, as well as having a reputation for her work on financial law and policy. Dorothy’s practice in competition and regulatory law centres on sectors such as banking, transport, broadcasting and utilities. She chairs the City of London Law Society financial law committee and represents that body on the Banking Liaison Panel established under the Banking Act 2009 to advise HM Treasury.
Becket McGrath (Edwards Wildman) is a Co-Chair of the firm’s Antitrust practice group. He advises clients on all aspects of EU and UK competition law, with an emphasis on behavioural issues, compliance, competition litigation and merger control. Although he advises clients in a broad range of sectors, he has a particular interest in the media, technology and communications sectors, as well as the interface between intellectual property and competition law. He also advises on broadcasting, rail and utility regulation. He has experience of enforcing UK and EU competition law at a senior level in the Office of Fair Trading and retains good links with enforcement agencies and regulators in the UK and across the EU. Becket is the author of the Private Enforcement division of Butterworths Competition Law, a standard reference work. He is a frequent commentator on competition law developments, having appeared on the BBC’s Today Programme, BBC News, Channel 4 News, Radio 5 Live and CNBC.