Cartels, Competition and Price Fixing

"an absolute superfirm. They are the first firm I would think of when I represent a company and want an individual covered."

Chambers and Partners, 2018

We regularly work alongside expert competition lawyers, providing specialist criminal advice in respect of competition and criminal cartel investigations. Our cartel team is recognised  in all the directories  as leaders in our field. 

Understanding what is at stake

Individuals who may have committed the cartel offence are vulnerable to a criminal investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).  The penalty under the cartel offence is up to five years in prison.

Our cartels team is extremely well placed to provide advice to individuals and companies who are caught up in cartel activity, whether through uncovering the activities internally, or as a result of an investigation by the CMA, European Commission (EC), SFO, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or overseas authorities such as the Department of Justice (DoJ).    

Following the changes to the law brought about in April 2014 by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (‘ERRA’) and the removal of the requirement for the CMA to prove dishonesty, we are aware that it can sometimes be difficult to assess whether or not conduct may fall within the criminal law and that the new exceptions and defences to the law can be confusing.  We provide regular training to companies and competition lawyers on the criminal cartel offence.

Providing specialist advice

If you are concerned about cartel activity, if your company is dawn-raided or individuals contacted by the CMA, then it is crucial that you get specialist advice to assess whether or not the conduct is potentially criminal. If it is, then immunity from criminal prosecution may be available to the individuals within the firm who first alert the CMA to the illegal activity. 

Any delay in assessing this risk can cost the company dearly both financially and reputationally and can mean that individuals may be criminally prosecuted, instead of being granted immunity.  

We are highly skilled at acting in lengthy investigations and trials, and in dealing with complex issues. We regularly advise on interviews under caution, compelled interviews, searches, dawn raids, internal investigations, leniency applications, immunity applications and the trial process.  

Supporting you through difficult times

A dawn raid (which is most likely to be conducted by the CMA and / or the European Commission) is a terrifying experience.  Members of staff may be arrested at the same time and taken to the police station for interview.  The CMA may have been monitoring the activity for some time and how a person deals with the first interview at the police station is crucial.

It is very difficult for those caught up in criminal investigations to understand that the process will generally take years, rather than months. We will help those involved to deal with the stress and uncertainty they will face.  We will always be alive to the question of whether we can do anything to stop the case going to trial.

As leaders in the field of extradition, we will advise you on jurisdictional issues, including extradition requests and red notices from foreign jurisdictions.  Our expertise in this area and close working relationships with lawyers from other jurisdictions is extremely valuable in these often cross-border investigations and prosecutions.

We have a dedicated reputation management team who can help to limit the reputation damage for individuals and companies who are riding the storm of a criminal investigation. Our employment team are at hand should the criminal investigation put an individual’s employment in jeopardy.

Notable cases

We have been involved in all bar one of the major cartel prosecutions and investigations to date and have been advising on the Enterprise Act 2002 from the moment that cartel agreements were first criminalised on 20 June 2003.  Our cases include Marine Hose, the BA - Virgin passenger fuel surcharge prosecution, pharmaceuticals, wire harness, commercial trucks and additional investigations that have not been made public. We have acted for a number of individuals facing investigation by the OFT and its successor, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), under the Enterprise Act 2002.


Multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional, high profile, long established practice, perhaps the most famous firm in the field.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

Universally respected by its peers, many of whom look enviously at its happy workforce, media profile and public standing.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

They are responsive, imaginative and dedicated professionals.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

Kingsley Napley LLP specialises in criminal cartel investigations, primarily representing individuals." 

Legal 500, Competition Litigation

Pioneers in the area, with a wealth of expertise."

Chambers UK, A Clients Guide to the UK Legal Profession

First-class reputation...Prominent cartel defence practice."

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

Cartels, Competition and Price Fixing Insights

View all


CMA Cartel Campaigns and the “Leniency Line”

What is a Cartel?

Cartel Crackdown?

#Brexit, the CMA and competition enforcement

Search Warrants: the case for reform – costs

Search Warrants: the case for reform – an introduction

Privilege, Confidentiality and the Challenge of Modern Technology

CMA campaign to crack down on cartels – but at what price?

Iso publishes standard on anti-corruption measures: independent certification or gentle reassurance?

Insider trading: the new market abuse regime

How the Yates memo has brought the ‘long arm of the law’ stiflingly close

2016-17: Tackling financial crime and ensuring AML compliance a UK and FCA top priority

Reducing sentences for guilty pleas – a new proposed Guideline

The CMA warns of ‘substantial fines’ – big players, big fines - a sign of things to come in 2016?

Scorecard for UK competition regime

Co-operation in competition – will we see more from the CMA?

UK ramps up fight against international corruption

FCA flexes competition muscles

The DOJ and CFTC dig deeper in precious metals market investigation

Senior Managers Regime: Tougher regulation of senior bankers and non-executive directors (NEDs) confirmed

Close Load more

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility