Office of Fair Trading
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OFT issues Statement of Objections to certain access control and alarm systems companies

The OFT has recently issued a Statement of Objections to four suppliers of access control and alarm systems to retirement properties alleging that they have infringed competition law.

The OFT has alleged that Cirrus Communication Systems Limited ('Cirrus'), Peter O'Rourke Electrical Limited, Owens Installations Limited and Glyn Jackson Communications Limited engaged variously in a number of collusive tendering arrangements in relation to the supply and installation of certain access control and alarm systems to retirement properties in the UK.

The OFT has alleged that, between 2005 and 2009, Cirrus entered into three separate arrangements with each of Peter O'Rourke Electrical Limited, Owens Installations Limited and Glyn Jackson Communications Limited. In these arrangements Cirrus allegedly shared confidential pricing information with each of the other companies with the aim that they would submit higher bids, enabling Cirrus to win the tenders. Not all companies are alleged to have been involved in all years between 2005 and 2009.

The matter was brought to the OFT's attention by one of Cirrus' then parent companies, Peverel Group Limited. Under the OFT's leniency policy when a company is the first to report its participation in cartel conduct it may qualify for immunity from penalties. Provided it continues to cooperate, Cirrus will be immune from any penalty imposed in this case. Owens Installations Limited has admitted its involvement in a collusive tendering arrangement with Cirrus and entered into a settlement agreement with the OFT in February 2013.

Cavendish Elithorn, OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, said:

'This case shows the OFT's ongoing commitment to investigate allegations of anti-competitive activity across different sectors.

'The companies now have a chance to respond to the allegations before the OFT decides if competition law has been broken.'

The OFT's findings are provisional and no assumption should be made at this stage that there has been an infringement of competition law. The companies will now have an opportunity to respond to the Statement of Objections and the OFT will carefully consider their representations before deciding whether competition law has in fact been infringed.

NOTES

  1. The Statement of Objections is addressed to the following companies, which the OFT provisionally considers were either directly involved in the alleged infringement(s) and/or are liable as parent companies of the companies directly involved, in relation to the following alleged infringements:

    - Cirrus, Careline UK Monitoring Limited (formerly Cirrus Careline Limited), and Peverel Building Technologies Limited (formerly Cirrus Building Technologies Limited): this is in relation to alleged infringements of the Chapter I prohibition between 2005 and 2009.
    - Peter O'Rourke Electrical Limited: This is in relation to an alleged infringement of the Chapter I prohibition between 2005 and 2007. 
    - Owens Installations Limited: This is in relation to an alleged infringement of the Chapter I prohibition between 2007 and 2009. 
    - Glyn Jackson Communications Limited: This is relation to an alleged infringement of the Chapter I prohibition during 2009. 
  2. For more information see the case page for this investigation.
  3. The Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 covers, among other matters, anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices that have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the UK or a part of it and which may affect trade in the UK or a part of it. 
  4. A Statement of Objections gives notice of a proposed infringement decision under the Competition Act 1998 to the parties involved. The parties then have the opportunity to make written and oral representations in response to the case set out by the OFT. Such representations will be considered by the OFT before any final decision is made. 
  5. The Statement of Objections will not be published. In accordance with the OFT's guidance on Involving third parties in Competition Act investigations (pdf 289 kb), any person who wishes to comment on the OFT's provisional findings, and who is in a position materially to assist the OFT in testing its factual, legal or economic arguments, may request a non-confidential version of the Statement of Objections by contacting the OFT no later than 2 August 2013.
  6. Anyone who has information about a cartel should call the cartels hotline on 0800 085 1664 or email cartelshotline@oft.gsi.gov.uk. Under the OFT's leniency policy an undertaking that has been involved in a cartel may be granted immunity from penalties or a significant reduction in penalty in return for reporting certain categories of Competition Act 1998 infringements and assisting the OFT with its investigation. The OFT also operates a rewards policy under which it may pay a financial reward of up to £100,000 in return for information which helps it to identify and take action against illegal cartels.


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