Keeping true to its word, the OFT continues to focus its competition enforcement efforts on the construction industry, one of the OFT's five priority areas, by punishing 13 companies for colluding to rig tenders. This is the fifth infringement decision taken in the industry so far.

In this latest case, roofing contractors were found to have been cooperating on several occasions in relation to tender procedures, deceiving purchasers in both the private and public sector. The infringements took place during a two-year period, finishing in 2002. Regions affected were Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, the South East, the Midlands and Doncaster.

A damning factor in the eyes of the competition watchdog was that in certain instances payments were being made to construction companies from rivals in return for them withdrawing from competitions, or agreeing to place cover bids designed to lose the work. For example, Briggs Roofing & Cladding Limited was paid £65,000, and Prater Limited was paid £35,000 as compensation for agreeing not to compete for contracts.

The 13 companies were fined a total of £2.3 million. This sum was, however, decreased to £1.6 million in recognition of the cooperation of the companies with the OFT under the leniency policy. Briggs Roofing & Cladding Limited received 100 per cent leniency for being the first party to come forward with information to the watchdog. Another six undertakings were also granted lenient treatment for their co-operation.

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