On February 1 2011 the Competition Commission invited firms in the construction sector which have been party to collusive practices to apply for fast-track settlement.

The commission's investigation into the sector has uncovered collusive practices in bidding for projects in the public and private sectors. In excess of sixty-five bid-rigging cases are currently being investigated in the construction sector, implicating over 70 projects with an estimated value of R29 billion.

The fast-track settlement offer encourages companies that are already the subject of an investigation to cooperate and provide truthful disclosure to the commission. It is also aimed at a quick and cost-effective resolution of the large number of complex cases before the commission, and follows a number of settlements that have recently been concluded. The fast-track settlement process will work concurrently with the commission's Corporate Leniency Policy. Firms that receive conditional immunity for a particular contravention will not be required to pay an administrative penalty under the settlement process. Firms that do not qualify for leniency but disclose their unlawful behaviour benefit from a substantially reduced penalty. If a firm fails to make full disclosure it risks having the maximum penalty, being 10% of its annual turnover, imposed.

The commission has invited firms to respond to the invitation to settle their bid-rigging and collusive conduct by submitting an application to the commission by no later than April 15 2011.

For further information on this topic please contact Martin Versfeld at Webber Wentzel by telephone (+27 11 530 5000), fax (+27 11 530 5111) or email ([email protected]).