Price fixing in the UK is almost always illegal, though there are exceptions. Typically, price-fixing is defined as an agreement between organisations or individuals to control the price level of a certain product or service.
For example, the intent of price-fixing generally is to either raise, peg, stabilise or bring prices down at an agreed level – whether that is expressed or implied. Price fixing can also include contract rigging, bid-rigging, market manipulation and market abuse, among other activities. One of the most famous price-fixing scandals of the last decade was the LIBOR scandal, where some banks reported artificially low or high-interest rates to benefit their derivatives traders.
Price fixing investigations
Considered a white-collar crime, price-fixing is usually investigated by:
- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
- The Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
- The Police. Especially the City of London Police, who are the principal police force for investigating economic crime
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
What to do if you are accused of price-fixing
If you are accused of price-fixing, then we recommend that you contact one of our expert Legal 500 recommended lawyers as soon as possible.
Obtaining legal advice as early as possible in the investigation is highly recommended and can change the outcome of the case. If you have any interviews with the police, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Office of Fair Trading (OFT), or the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), we would advise having a lawyer present or at least seeking legal advice before going into the interview. We can also offer advice on the outcome of the interview. At Stephensons, we understand that that business and individual reputations are at stake and the need for discretion is paramount. Our experienced serious fraud lawyers have previously defended business owners, directors, professionals and senior management in complex cases.
Our experienced price-fixing lawyers understand the mindset of how these organisations work and can challenge issues that arise, if deemed appropriate. Price fixing cases are complex and can take a long time to resolve. At Stephensons, we have the resources needed to comb through the large amounts of paperwork that such cases can generate. We also have access to experts, such as forensic accountants, computer experts and compliance professionals. We will always aim to protect our clients’ interests and will always give our clients honest advice so we can reach the best possible outcome for them.
As a large full-service law firm with offices in the City of London, Manchester and Merseyside, we are equipped to handle high profile complex price-fixing cases in England and Wales. If found guilty of price-fixing, sentences can include time in prison as well as potential fines. For directors and other professionals, they may face being disqualified, struck off or banned from practising.
If you need high-quality legal defence services for price-fixing allegations from specialist lawyers, then contact Stephensons today on 0175 321 6399.