Michael O'Kane, THE LAW OF CRIMINAL CARTELS. PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE Oxford: Oxford University Press (www.oup.com), 2009. xxxv + 416 pp. ISBN 9780199561209. £125.

Date01 May 2010
Published date01 May 2010

The cartel offence, introduced into the law of the UK by section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002, was greeted with almost deafening silence on its enactment, although the few provisions to deal with the offence within a very long and important Act of Parliament (the Act also reformed the UK law of merger control and the law relating to market investigation references) generated more discussion in parliamentary committee stage than any other part of the Act. It is perhaps not surprising that there has been, to date, relatively little published about what is, at the minimum, an interesting offence. Competition lawyers have usually had little reason to familiarise themselves with criminal law procedures, and criminal lawyers (at least since the eighteenth century) have had no reason to familiarise themselves with competition law. Equally important is the fact that, until only very recently, there has been very little in the way of enforcement by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). It was originally contemplated in the preliminary Penrose Report that there could be two or three cases a year. In fact only two prosecutions have been brought forward, one of which, concerning personnel involved with British Airways, is continuing at the time of writing. (The Court of Appeal in England recently handed down an important judgment following an interlocutory appeal in that case: IB v The Queen [2009] EWCA Crim 2575; this case is too recent to be referenced in The Law of Criminal Cartels, which is stated as being up to date as at 1 March 2009). Against the background the author of any substantial work purporting to deal with the cartel offence is faced with a somewhat invidious task.

Excluding appendices there are 327 pages of narrative text in this very clear and well set-out treatment of the law of criminal cartels, and it is important that a potential purchaser or reader understands how it is possible to write so much about an offence which has hardly yet been enforced, in respect of which there have been only two reported judgments on appeal (the first being R v Whittle and Ors [2008] EWCA Crim 2560), and which is contained within fourteen sections of an Act. The answer, in part, is that the subject-matter of this book is wider than might be anticipated since the author, a partner at Peters & Peters, deals not only with the UK's cartel offence, but also, in chapter 8, with the law in another ten jurisdictions. In addition, chapter 5, which deals with criminal...

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