The Office of Fair Trading ('OFT') has fined six Scottish roofing contractors who were involved in a cartel. The agreements took place between 2000 and 2002 and affected a wide range of customers, including a school, a hospital and a number of banks.
 
The companies were fined a total of £260,000 at first, but this was reduced to £138,000 by leniency, with one Paisley based company's fine being reduced from over £85,000 to zero. This drastic drop in the fine is in line with the OFT's policy in granting 100% leniency to the first party who volunteers information. The OFT, in its conclusion, felt that the setting of tender prices between the parties was intended to restrict or distort competition and resulted in buyers being unable to obtain competitive prices.
 
The chairman of the OFT, Sir John Vickers, stated: "collusive tendering deprives customers of the benefits of competition. In this case a hospital, school and council tax payers were disadvantaged by these anti-competitive agreements."
 
This is the OFT's second crackdown in recent months over price fixing in the Scottish roofing industry. Subscribers may remember our report in April on the discovery of a similar cartel in the North-East of Scotland.  This new case once again shows that the watchdog is dedicated to breaking up not only cartels between the largest, multinational companies, but also those between smaller local businesses.

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