OFT proposes tougher penalties: ignorant-directors face disqualification under a new law.

AuthorHowarth, Anita
PositionCompetition Law

Directors remain unaware of competition law despite the threat of disqualification, according to City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP). They could be disqualified for up to 15 years for breaches of competition law under new penalties proposed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Both executive directors and non-executive directors would be subject to the same standards, requirements and penalties.

The OFT argues that it is reasonable to assume that all directors know competition law and realise that they have to comply with it. But 79 per cent of respondents to a BLP survey said not all directors were aware of competition law and 74 per cent felt that non-execs should not be expected to have the same level of knowledge of the law as their executive colleagues.

The OFT also proposes to make directors of a parent company liable if one of its subsidiaries breaks the law. Former directors of a company would be denied the leniency afforded their firm. The survey found 78 per cent of respondents had only limited knowledge of the day-to-day management of their subsidiaries and 64 per cent would not be aware if the subsidiaries were infringing competition law.

BLP argues that the OFT's proposals will...

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