A set of Chambers always at the centre of changes in financial crime, QEB Hollis Whiteman have 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 managing successfully the delicate multi-jurisdictional aspects of such cases, Chambers remains a source of genuine expertise in this field.
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 QC and Mark Ellison QC worked closely with Michael O’Kane of Peters and 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 QC and William Boyce QC acted in the second prosecution, the now infamous Virgin/BA price-fixing case, which collapsed amid 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 QC led the prosecution of three individuals, accused of having fixed the price of steel tanks. William Boyce QC again appeared, 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.