The OFT has published a report which was commissioned in order to establish the effectiveness of different antitrust sanctions. The report also comments on the efficacy of the penalties imposed in the UK compared with those used by other competition authorities.

The report confirms that deterrence is a key aspect of antitrust policy but that fines alone are not always sufficient. The report, therefore, suggests that the most successful regimes are those that combine fines with non-monetary penalties, such as individual sanctions, leniency, settlements and private actions.

The report states that although the fines imposed by UK competition authorities tend be lower than those of its international comparators, the UK has implemented a robust leniency programme and provides for forceful penalties against individuals; these include imprisonment and competition disqualification orders for anticompetitive practices. The report warns authorities not to pay too much attention to the financial hardship caused by the imposition of fines to deter companies from falsifying their balance sheets. However, the report also warns that where hefty fines result in bankruptcy, this too can reduce competition within a given market.

30 October 2009