This move follows an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into two of the UK’s largest suppliers of lead sheet, Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) and HJ Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead) based in Hertfordshire. Rolled lead is mainly used for roofs and is an important product for the construction sector.
The companies, which together make up a significant proportion of UK rolled lead shipments, admitted to forming an illegal cartel last year. This included violating the law four times by fixing prices, dividing the rolled lead market by agreeing not to target certain customers, and agreeing not to supply new business as this could disrupt the companies’ existing customer relationships. Each of the agreements included the exchange of competitive information. As a result, the companies were fined £ 1.5m and £ 8m respectively.
Due to the seriousness of the violations and the involvement of the directors, the CMA has now secured the disqualification of Jocelyn Campbell (BLM), Graham Hudson and Maurice Sherling (ALM). All were directors at the time of the illegal activity.
Mr Campbell also tried to hide his communications with competitor companies by using a different cell phone as his main phone in the period from December 2016 until the investigation began in July 2017. This only became known when the CMA seized the phone.
Mr. Sherling admitted to suspecting that ALM is violating competition law and receiving competitive information from a competitor (Mr. Campbell of BLM) but does nothing to prevent it.
Mr. Campbell will be disqualified for 6.5 years, Mr. Hudson for 4 years, and Mr. Sherling for 3 years.
Michael Grenfell, Executive Director of Enforcement at CMA said:
“It is an important responsibility of business leaders to ensure that their companies are not engaging in illegal anti-competitive practices that can lead to higher prices for customers.
“The CMA has clear evidence that these directors either knowingly made illegal agreements and communications or were aware of them and did nothing to stop them. Therefore these measures are necessary. This should be a message to all directors. If your company violates competition law, you risk personal disqualification. “
The CMA has issued a set of guidelines to help businesses and directors understand more about competition law compliance, including compliance advice for business leaders to avoid disqualifying directors and the Competition Law Guide.
Please see the Roofing Materials Examination case page for more information.
Notes for editors
- Under the Company Directors Disqualification Act, the CMA has the power to petition the court to exclude a director from directorships or certain functions in relation to a company for a specified period of time if it is a company of which he is a director against violate competition law. The law also allows the CMA to accept a director’s obligation to disqualify as an alternative to filing a lawsuit. Such an enterprise has the same legal effect as a disqualification decision. These disqualifications were secured by such an enterprise.
- The Register of Disqualified Directors can be accessed by the public on the Companies House website.
- Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) is owned by International Metal Industries Ltd. HJ Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead) is owned by Eco-Bat Technologies Ltd.
- Mr. Campbell’s disqualification will begin on March 18, 2021 and Mr. Hudson and Mr. Sherling’s disqualification will begin on May 30, 2021.
- Please direct media inquiries to: [email protected] or 020 3738 6460.