The High Court has ruled in favour of construction company Crest Nicholson in its judicial review of a decision by the OFT to refuse to re-open an offer of co-operation in an investigation into bid-rigging in the building sector. The OFT had made a fast track offer to Crest Nicholson regarding co-operation in the investigation into collusive tendering in November 2007, an offer that Crest Nicholson rejected in December 2007.

The High Court held that the OFT’s refusal to re-open the offer in May 2008 constituted a breach of the principle of equal treatment (on the grounds that the company did not have the same opportunity to make an “informed decision” as the other parties involved in the investigation), as well as the principle of procedural fairness (since the company had insufficient time to understand the essence of the case against it). Nevertheless, the OFT has indicated that the court’s decision does not require it to re-open the offer and should not impact on the time frame for the publication of the enquiry, expected to be in the autumn.