UK contractors less likely to adopt anti-competitive practices

By Steve Skinner04 June 2010

Research by Europe Economics has found that the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) competition enforcement activities of the past two years have led to increased awareness and understanding of competition law and changes in business behaviour in the UK's construction industry.

Surveys of contractors and procurers conducted in 2008 and again in 2010 show that nearly 75% of contractors are aware of the OFT's decision of September 2009 relating to bid rigging in the construction industry. This is up from less than 33% that were aware of earlier infringement decisions in 2008.

The research also showed that nine in ten construction firms now recognise that bid rigging, including cover pricing, is a serious breach of competition law. With less than 50% of contractors aware of possible fines for cover pricing in 2008, the number aware of penalties in 2010 rose to over 75%.

As well as a more acute understanding by contractors, approximately 66% of procurers have introduced mechanisms in the past two years to detect and prevent anti-competitive practices.

A spokesperson from the OFT said, "The OFT's approach to competition enforcement involves a relatively small number of high impact cases in order to create a strong deterrent effect across sectors. The independent report by Europe Economics shows a significant rise in understanding of anti-competitive practices, and marked improvement in business behaviour amongst construction firms."

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