Competition law compliance: OFT fines Mercedes-Benz and three of its dealers

The OFT has announced fines of £2.6m for Mercedes-Benz and three of its commercial vehicle dealers. The fines relate to infringements of the competition law rules. Full details are not yet available, but the OFT has indicated that Mercedes-Benz and its dealers engaged in market sharing, price co-ordination and exchange of commercially sensitive information.

As a matter of competition law, dealers must operate independently of each other. Any coordination between dealers, whether directly or indirectly through the supplier, risks being condemned as a serious breach of the competition law rules. In this case, the infringements were relatively short (lasting for varying periods between January 2008 and January 2010) and not every party was involved in every aspect of them. Also, the impact of the infringements appears to have been relatively limited, relating only to parts of the North of England, Wales and Scotland. This may explain why, in competition law terms, the OFT’s fines are relatively low…

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