Competition lawyers help OFT criminal investigation take flight

The Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) investigation into alleged price-fixing at British Airways (BA) and a number of other airlines is providing plenty of work for the City’s finest competition lawyers.

Slaughter and May has flown in to BA’s rescue, while Herbert Smith is thought to be acting for longstanding client Virgin Atlantic. Other firms understood to have landed instructions include Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Lovells and SJ Berwin.

It seems every competition lawyer in the land was glued to the BBC’s Money Programme last night, which laid bare the facts of the case. But the big question for competition teams is how to play the criminal side, because it is the first-ever criminal investigation by the OFT.

Forget the big City names for a moment; this is going to be a field day for the white-collar crime firms.