Economic and Legal Implications for the EU Member States
Edited by Katalin J. Cseres, Maarten Pieter Schinkel and Floris O.W. Vogelaar
Chapter 15: Cartel Penalties and Damages in Ireland: Criminalization and the Case for Custodial Sentences
15. Cartel penalties and damages in Ireland: criminalization and the case for custodial sentences Terry Calvani1 1 INTRODUCTION Price-fixing, and related ‘hard-core’ cartel behaviour,2 are theft and recognized to be such under Irish law. The Competition Act, 2002 addresses price-ﬁxing in two ways: ﬁrst, it is a crime on indictment and the Act vests the Competition Authority and the Director of Public Prosecutions with the power to investigate and prosecute respectively.3 Upon conviction, individuals may be sentenced to a maximum of ﬁve years imprisonment and ﬁned up to €4,000,000.4 Second, it creates a private right of action to compensate those injured by cartel conduct.5 Thus, the law focuses on both deterrence6 and compensation. Deterrence and compensation are both appropriate objectives. Although fines and compensation payments can provide some deterrence, only custodial sentences are likely to be effective. Fines and compensatory damages would have to be much higher than current levels to effectively deter. Such an increase is politically infeasible. Thus, satisfaction of the deterrence objective is contingent on imposition of custodial sentences. Compensation, while a laudatory objective, is difficult to achieve. Interests injured by anticompetitive cartel behaviour run from the economy generally to a range of buyers and sellers. Identiﬁcation of injured parties and measurement of the amount of injury can be very difﬁcult. Courts in some jurisdictions have applied arbitrary rules in order to provide an element of compensation in an administratively efﬁcient way. As a result, compensation of injured parties has...
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