Cartel convicted following CCPC investigation
In May 2017 the Central Criminal Court convicted and sentenced both Aston Carpets & Flooring and its company director for engaging in bid-rigging in the procurement of flooring contracts for major international companies between 2012 and 2013.
This followed an investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), who found that an agreement had been made between Aston Carpets and a competitor to set prices for certain tenders between 2011 and 2013. The intention was to fix the price, indirectly, for the supply and fitting of floor finishes and to share the market by over-bidding on alternating tenders. The CCPC found that there had been collusion in respect of 16 contracts, the values of which ranged from €17,000 to €477,000. During the course of the investigation the CCPC undertook searches of a number of premises to seize evidence, including emails, quotations and telephone records.
The court imposed a three-month suspended sentence on the director plus a fine of €7,500. He was also been disqualified from acting as a company director for a period of 5 years in accordance with section 839 of the Companies Act 2014. A fine of €10,000 was imposed on Aston Carpets.
Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission stated, “All businesses, regardless of size or sector, must comply with their obligations under competition law. This also serves as a reminder to those involved in procurement to be vigilant.”
In June 2017 the European Court of Human Rights upheld a complaint brought by Independent News & Media (INM) that a €1.25m libel award to PR consultant Monica Leech amounted to a violation of freedom of expression. INM argued that the award amounted to a disproportionate interference with its right of freedom of expression. The court agreed and found that the level of the award constituted a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides a right to freedom of expression and information. The decision is potentially significant and may have a major impact on the size of future libel awards.
Third Party Litigation Funding
In May 2017 the Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling that commercial funding of litigation amounts to maintenance and champerty and is prohibited under Irish law. Any change to the law should be a matter for legislature to decide.