• 'QEB Hollis Whiteman ‘richly deserves its reputation’ for handling corporate crime work' Legal 500 2016
  • 'Its members have prior or current experience of prosecuting financial crime cases, which affords them valuable insight into the best approach to take when defending such actions' Chambers UK 2017
  • 'Regularly sought out to handle high-profile matters' Chambers UK 2017

Cartels & Competition

A set of Chambers always at the centre of changes in Financial Crime, QEB Hollis Whiteman has played a leading role in shaping this area of law; we remain an authority in this field.


The use of criminal powers to address issues of Competition Law is a modern phenomenon. In keeping with Chambers’ pre-eminent role in all aspects of Fraud and Financial Crime, members of Chambers have been involved at all stages of the development of this area of work. To date there have been three prosecutions under The Enterprise Act 2002 for the offence of price-fixing, Chambers has played a leading role in all.

Whilst uncertainty surrounding the form of the offence (and perhaps a sense, since 2008, that there are greater crimes against consumers than price-fixing) appears to have led to a reduction in price-fixing prosecutions, there will undoubtedly be new cases in the next few years. With vast experience of price-fixing allegations and, in particular, experience of successfully managing the delicate multi-jurisdictional aspects of such cases, Chambers remains a source of genuine expertise in this field.

Our Experience

The first price-fixing prosecution was the Marine Hose Prosecution, which took place in 2008. No fewer than three members of Chambers were instructed for the defence, from an early stage of the prosecution. Adrian Darbishire KC and Mark Ellison KC worked closely with Michael O’Kane of Peters & Peters in securing the historic deal with the DOJ, which allowed the defendants, who had been arrested in the USA, to plead to both OFT and DOJ Proceedings, but only to serve jail time in this jurisdiction.  

Adrian Darbishire KC and William Boyce KC acted in the second prosecution, the now infamous British Airways/Virgin price-fixing case, which collapsed amidst serial disclosure problems and a notable absence of evidence capable of proving the facts alleged.

The third prosecution, and the last attempted under the original form of the offence, took place in 2015. Mark Ellison KC led the prosecution of three Individuals, accused of having fixed the price of steel tanks. William Boyce KC appeared again, acting for one of the defendants.

In addition to acting in cases which have gone to Court, members of Chambers have advised in numerous other investigations at an early stage, assisting in the process of avoiding proceedings entirely.


Recent Cases

SFO v Airbus (2020)

On 31 January 2020, Dame Victoria Sharp PQBD gave final public approval to a Deferred Prosecution...

R v Hopkins and Passlow (2015)

David Groome and Ari Alibhai acted in the successful private prosecution of the directors of...

British Airways/Virgin Price-Fixing Trial (2010)

William Boyce QC was instructed on behalf of a Director of British Airways plc, while Adrian...


Using impact statements for business in corporate and financial criminal cases

Nicholas Griffin QC and Kyan Pucks outline the benefits of corporate crime practitioners utilising ISBs in the interest of their clients. The article which was published by LexisNexis can be viewed here .   ...