Just six per cent of firms in the construction industry are familiar with competition laws, a major report has revealed.
The study, published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), comes after the regulator handed out more than £43 million in fines for anti-competitive practices in the last year alone.
According to the research, around three in 10 (29 per cent) construction businesses “thought it was OK to attend meetings with competitors to agree prices”, while a similar number (32 per cent) thought “agreeing not to supply each other’s customers was legal”.
Additionally, one in four construction businesses (25 per cent) “saw no problem with discussing bids and agreeing who would get which tenders”.
Commenting on the report, Howard Cartlidge, the CMA’s Senior Director of Cartels, said: “The CMA is cracking down on businesses that collude to rip off customers by fixing prices, sharing out markets amongst themselves or rigging bids. Our message to them is that we know cheating when we see it, even if you don’t. Pleading ignorance is no defence; it’s up to businesses to know what these unfair practices look like and avoid them.
“By ensuring you stay on the right side of the law, you can avoid substantial fines, director disqualification or jail. And if you suspect something illegal is going on, report it to us before it’s too late.”
Alongside the figures, the CMA also launched a new campaign aiming to raise awareness of anti-competitive practices, such as price fixing, bid rigging and dividing markets or customers between competitors (also known as market sharing).
Anti-competitive practices have become more common in recent years, with one case involving a cartel of pre-cast concrete drainage firms attempting to fix prices and agree not to share customers. Following an investigation, the firms were fined a combined £36 million.
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