CMA launches legal recruitment campaign to boost cartels and criminal team

The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Cartels and Criminal Group has launched a recruitment campaign to hire in-house lawyers.

According to a statement, the objective is to hire “a number of talented individuals across a range of specialisms in intelligence, civil cartel enforcement and digital forensics”.

To highlight the campaign, the organisation produced a number of interviews with key lawyers already in its team, asking them about their motivation for joining the CMA and what their typical caseload was like. 

CMA executive director of enforcement Sonya Branch said: “The CMA offers intellectually-stimulating careers working on cases that have a real impact on the lives of people across the UK. 

“These are challenging roles and we are looking for talented individuals to helping us drive forward our enforcement work.”

Branch, who joined CMA forerunner the Office of Fair Trading in 2007 from a partner role at Clifford Chance, said that it is a unique moment in the history of the UK competition sector.

“The sheer scale and depth of the work is intellectually stimulating and I think it is more challenging to deliver on this side of the fence – spending public money demands rigour and I enjoy working with a sense of public duty rather than being client-led,” she said.

Assistant director Lucília Falsarella Pereira, who joined the OFT from the European Commission, having previously worked in private practice in Brazil, said the CMA offered a varied workload with “no such thing” as a typical day.

The CMA is looking for lawyers with significant experience in competition or regulatory law and casework, or in complex litigation, or whose experience may be more limited but who would like the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills.

This campaign follows the CMA’s decision to create three new cartel roles last year (9 October 2014). The regulator has been very active since its inception, launching a probe into the energy market (16 October 2014) and the banking sector (11 November 2014).

The CMA is currently gearing up for a major case against the private healthcare industry this year. A swathe of private hospital companies including AXA are teaning up against the regulator to defy its conclusion that various players in the market needed to divest assets to ensure fair competition.

The case next year will see a raft of firms including EvershedsLinklaters and Slaughter and May all face off against the CMA.

It also launched a major criminal investigation into suspected cartel conduct in relation to the supply of galvanised steel tanks for water storage in the UK. A case management hearing is scheduled for 26 January 2015.

Last year the CMA hired former Slaughters partner Sarah Cardell as its first general counsel (11 September 2013).