The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has secured the disqualification of three former directors of office fit-out companies for their involvement in illegal cartel behaviour
The move follows the CMA’s finding on 12 April 2019 that six office fit-out companies broke competition law at least once – and in some cases on multiple occasions – during the period from 2006 to 2017.
Fourfront, Loop, Coriolis, ThirdWay and Oakley were required to pay fines totalling more than £7m. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL) was not required to pay a fine, having brought the illegal cartel to the CMA’s attention under the CMA’s leniency programme. Each company was found to have participated in “cover bidding” in competitive tenders, colluding on the prices they would bid for contracts.
Robb Simms-Davies, a former director of Bluu Solutions Ltd, Bluuco Ltd and Tetris Projects Ltd, has been disqualified for 5 years.
Trevor Hall, a former director of Cube Interior Solutions Ltd, has been disqualified for 2 years and 6 months, and Oliver James Hammond, a former director of Area Sq. Ltd, has been disqualified for 2 years.
Bluu Solutions Ltd, Bluuco Ltd and Tetris Projects Ltd are part of the JLL group of companies. Bluu Solutions Ltd and Bluuco Ltd were acquired by JLL in 2015. Cube Interior Solutions and Area Sq. Ltd are part of the Fourfront group of companies.
All three were directors of their respective companies at the time of the illegal cartel activity and contributed to a number of the competition law breaches. Simms-Davies contributed to 12 breaches affecting contracts with a total value of over £13.5m. Hall and Hammond each contributed to two breaches. In the case of Hammond the affected contracts were worth over £4.3m. The contracts in the case of Hall had a total value of over £1.2m.
As a former director within the JLL group, Simms-Davies would have been immune from director disqualification but had his protection withdrawn because he did not submit to a voluntary interview with the CMA. Continuous and complete cooperation with the CMA’s investigation is a condition for leniency.
The undertakings disqualify these individuals from acting as directors or being involved in the management of any UK company. The CMA is continuing to investigate whether to seek the disqualification of other individuals in this case.
This brings the total number of director disqualifications secured by the CMA to nine since December 2016 when the CMA took the policy decision to use this power actively as part of ensuring personal responsibility.