Construction firm fines cut on appeal

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The Independent Online

An appeals tribunal has slashed fines imposed on six construction firms for colluding, criticising Britain's consumer affairs watchdog for processes that led to "excessive and disproportionate" penalties.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal reduced the £42m of fines imposed on the six companies, which include Kier, to little more than a tenth of that total. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) handed out fines totalling £129.5m to 103 construction firms in September 2009 for colluding when bidding for work on projects such as hospitals and schools. The CAT said the deterrence element of the fines – set at 0.75 per cent of the construction firms' turnover – was "applied mechanistically and as a substitute for an individual assessment".