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OFT told to pay contractors £350k in costs

The Office of Fair Trading has agreed to pay a further five contractors for legal costs they incurred during the watchdog’s cover pricing investigation.

In a ruling handed down at the Competition Appeals Tribunal, the OFT was forced to pay between 10 and 20 per cent of legal costs incurred by five contractors that successfully appealed the size of their fines in the cover pricing scandal.

The six firms and the amounts the OFT must reimburse them for legal costs are as follows:

  • Barratt Estate Services/Francis Construction - £51,960.94
  • JH Hallam - £44,857.71
  • Hobson & Porter - £43,550.69
  • Robert Woodhead - £48,170.78
  • Renew Holdings/Allenbuild - £160,000

This enforced payout for the OFT follows the watchdog in October having to pay more than £1.5 million to partially cover the legal costs of 11 contractors that had also successfully appealed their level of fines for cover pricing.

The CAT cut the fines imposed by the OFT earlier this year after finding it had wrongly calculated the size of fines and exaggerated the seriousness of offences.

The OFT originally imposed fines of £130m on 103 companies after finding them guilty of various offences.

Most were accused of submitting fake tenders for jobs to maintain client relationships - a practice known as cover-pricing.

The fines for 25 companies that appealed were cut from £76m to £13m by the CAT.

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