Ireland

Cartel conduct is criminalised by the Competition Act 2002.

The offence

Participating in a hard-core cartel is a criminal offence under section 6 of the Competition Act 2002 and can amount to an indictment offence.

Section 6(2) of the Competition Act 2002 defines a hard-core cartel as an agreement or decision made by competing undertakings or a concerted practice the purpose of which is to:

  • directly or indirectly fix prices with respect to the provision of goods and services;
  • limit output or sales; or
  • share markets or customers.

This provision only applies to horizontal anti-competitive arrangements.

Section 6 also criminalises the entering into of agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition in trade in any goods or services in Ireland or in any part of Ireland. The following types of arrangement are expressly prohibited:

  • directly or indirectly fixing purchase or selling prices or other trading conditions;
  • limiting or controlling production or markets;
  • sharing markets or sources of supply;
  • applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties; or
  • attaching supplementary obligations to a commercial contract that have nothing to do with the subject of the contract.

Sanctions

Individuals

On summary conviction, a maximum fine of EUR3,000 and six months’ imprisonment.

On conviction on indictment, a maximum fine of EUR5 million or 10 percent of the individual’s annual turnover (whichever is greater) and ten years’ imprisonment.

Corporations

On summary conviction, a maximum fine of EUR3,000.

On conviction on indictment, a maximum fine of EUR5 million or 10 percent of annual turnover (whichever is greater).

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