Research reveals UK businesses still unclear on competition law

Karen Campbell-White, Head of Campaigns & Compliance at the CMA on their latest Stop Cartels campaign and why educating businesses on business cartels will hopefully put a stop to  unfair and illegal behaviour.    

Our latest work with Protect builds on our last campaign, which saw a 30% increase in tip offs to our cartels hotline.  We hope to repeat this success.  

So, what are we doing differently this time round?

We spoke to businesses across the UK to get a better understanding of how much they understood about risky business practices that could put them in danger of breaking competition law.  We also researched attitudes to speaking up and reporting bad business behaviours.

What we found

Our research shows UK businesses are still unclear about competition law:

  • Most (77%) don’t feel they understand competition law well
  • Very few (6%) run any competition law training or have senior level discussions about it (18%).
  • 41% don’t know attending a meeting where rivals agree prices is illegal

And although it is encouraging to see that most firms (88%) would act if they had information that someone in their organisation was breaking the law, they wouldn’t necessarily speak out – 39% would talk to the person directly to warn them.

How have we made reporting cartels easier?

To encourage informants to come forward to us and stay with us on the reporting journey, we’ve taken inspiration from behavioural theory, making it easy for people to ‘do the right thing’ and tell us when they see illegal practices.

Look out for our new:

  • refreshed campaign page that explains what cartels look like in practice
  • case studies that lift the lid on real life cases where businesses have broken the law
  • online tools such as an online quiz and a ‘cartel checker’ to help users understand if what they have seen is illegal
  • online reporting form that makes the reporting to us quicker and easier
  • reporting film that explains what to expect after you report a case to us

Why is it important to report?

Although business crimes may look victimless they are not. Business cartels cheat customers out of a fair deal by forcing prices up, reducing quality, choice and innovation.

The CMA takes cartel behaviour seriously and the repercussions if you are caught breaking the law are serious.

We’re telling those that may have been involved in a cartel that it’s better to Be Safe, Not Sorry and report it to us first, as they may benefit from immunity from fines and prosecution if they report before others do.

If you think you’ve witnessed others breaking the law, then Do What’s Right and report it to us to the CMA using any of our reporting channels (phone, email or online reporting form)

To find out more go to: www.gov.uk/stopcartels

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