EU and Competition: Settle down
On 7 December, 2007, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced that it had concluded 'early resolution agreements' with several major supermarkets and dairy processors in relation to allegations of collusion on dairy product pricing. The companies involved admitted involvement in many of the anti-competitive practices set out in the OFT's statement of objections and agreed to pay fines totalling £116m. But what is an 'early resolution agreement'? Essentially, it is a negotiated confidential settlement in which the level of the fine is agreed, and a significant reduction is given in return for an admission of liability and a pledge to co-operate with the OFT. This enables the OFT to cut short the investigation and avoid lengthy and expensive appeals.
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