A new cartel leniency programme is set to be introduced in Ireland under the Competition (Amendment) Act 2022.
This will allow applicants to benefit from reduced civil penalties / fines by "blowing the whistle" on the existence of cartels by coming forward to the CCPC.
Full immunity from administrative financial sanctions will only be available to the first participant that applies for leniency. Any subsequent applicants many benefit from a possible reduction of up to 50% in any administrative financial sanctions.
The new leniency programme is separate (and in addition) to the existing Cartel Immunity Programme operated by the DDP for criminal cartel cases.
Key implications for Clients:
The leniency programme will operate as both a detection and deterrent mechanism against breaches of competition law, and is intended to foster distrust among cartel participants.
Clients should (as always) avoid (or exercise extreme care) in any interaction they might have with competitors, particularly anything relating to business strategy, industry conditions, output, future plans or pricing.
Applying for leniency will not relieve a cartel member from the possibility of private damages actions being brought by their customers.
An applicant who is granted leniency under the new leniency regime will not automatically be immune from criminal prosecution and vice versa under the existing Cartel Immunity Programme. Applicants are likely to use both programmes to obtain immunity from criminal prosecution and leniency regarding administrative financial sanctions.