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Title: The role of the leniency programme in the enforcement of competition law in the UK : a complementary enforcement procedure or an admission of the failure of enforcement authorities to tackle anticompetitive behaviour head on?
Author: Jinadasa, Malini S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 6626
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2018
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Leniency Programmes have been introduced as a complementary measure in the enforcement of competition law in detecting cartels, on the basis that hard to find evidence will be provided by undertakings coming forward to confess, in exchange for immunity or reduction in fines. The advantages of leniency are deemed to be twofold, since evidence is thereby expected to be given voluntarily, and in turn it would save up the limited resources available to enforcement authorities, by reducing lengthy investigations in search of evidence. Therefore, the widely accepted view by regulators, economists, and lawyers alike is that leniency is by far the most effective method of detecting and deterring anticompetitive activities by undertakings. An 'undertaking' covers any entity engaged in an economic activity that offers goods or services in a given market. In the UK, Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 governs prohibitions that fall within the category of cartels of which price-fixing, market or customer sharing, agreements to restrict production or supply, and bid-rigging are the most serious 'hard-core cartels'. This study evaluates the efficacy of the Leniency Programme in the enforcement of competition law applied in respect of cartel infringements based on cases decided by the UK's principal enforcement authority. Chapter I cases decided and published over a twelve-year period, since the Competition Act 1998 came into force, have been analysed in order to evaluate whether the leniency programme has been an incentive for colluders to apply for leniency. The results indicate that very few leniency applications were submitted voluntarily before an investigation was begun by the enforcement authority. Moreover, the detection rate of Chapter I cases on average has been very low over the twelve-year period, less than 2 cases per year, excluding settlements. The research also shows that contrary to the accepted view that evidence relating to cartels is difficult to find, cartels studied in this thesis have left a trail of both electronic, and other evidence that the authorities were able to seize. Further, the leniency applicants were not always reliable witnesses, and despite leniency, the enforcement authorities had to conduct lengthy investigations, negating the cost saving assertion and taking resources away from ex officio interventions by the authorities. The conclusion drawn from this study is that rather than enhancing detection and deterrence of anticompetitive behaviour by undertakings, the leniency programme overlaps, and in effect, undermines the public enforcement of competition law in the UK.
Supervisor: Malinauskaite, J. ; Korotana, M. ; Danov, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: UK antitrust policy ; OFT cases and materials ; EU and UK leniency in antitrust ; Immunity and antitrust law ; Corporate leniency in antitrust