In its simplest terms, a cartel is an agreement between businesses not to compete with each other. The agreement is usually secret, verbal and often informal.
Typically, cartel members may agree on:
These agreements are prohibited by the Competition Act and Article 101 TFEU of the EC Treaty. In addition, the Enterprise Act makes it a criminal offence for individuals to dishonestly take part in certain specified cartels, essentially those that involve price fixing, market sharing, limitation of production or supply or bid rigging.
Cartels can occur in almost any industry and can involve goods or services at the manufacturing, distribution or retail level.
Some sectors are more susceptible to cartels than others because of the structure or the way in which they operate. For example, where:
You can download more information on cartels and the OFT's powers of investigation and enforcement below:
Powers of investigation (pdf 96 kb)
Covert surveillance in cartel investigations (pdf 178 kb)
Covert human intelligence in cartel investigations (pdf 158 kb)
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