Cartels are agreements to fix prices, share markets, limit production or engage in bid-rigging or collusive tendering. Cartels are illegal throughout the European Union. Indeed, throughout the world, cartels are recognised as the most serious breach of competition law.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in conjunction with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) operates a Cartel Immunity Programme.
The Cartel Immunity Programme (Programme) provides a unique mechanism to help uncover cartels and provide witnesses for the criminal prosecution of cartel members. The Programme means that a member of a cartel may avoid prosecution, including fines and jail time, if they are the first member to come forward and reveal their involvement in illegal cartel activity before the CCPC has completed any investigation and referred the matter to the DPP.
The clear benefit of the Programme is the possibility of immunity from prosecution for the first person to come forward and co-operate fully with an investigation.
The CCPC investigates alleged breaches of the Competition Act 2002 (as amended) and recommend prosecution to the DPP. The DPP is responsible for prosecuting offences on indictment and almost all cartels are viewed as criminal offences given the seriousness of these type of offences. Under the Programme the CCPC acts as an intermediary between applicants and the DPP in seeking immunity from prosecution in return for providing evidence in a criminal trial.
A revised Cartel Immunity Programme came into effect on 22 January 2015 which sets out the policy of both the DPP and the CCPC in relation to immunity and outlines the process through which parties must agree to cooperate in order to qualify for immunity from criminal prosecution.
Applications for immunity under this Programme are made to the CCPC. However, it should be noted that only the DPP can grant immunity from prosecution.
Phone the cartel immunity phone 087 763 1378 between the hours of 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday, except on public or bank holidays to make an application for immunity to the CCPC.
In order to qualify for immunity:
You should come forward as soon as possible
You must terminate your participation in the illegal cartel activity
You must do nothing to alert your former associates that you have applied for immunity under the programme
Prior to approaching the CCPC, you must not have forced another party to enter or participate in the cartel
Throughout the course of the investigation you must co-operate completely with the investigation. In particular, you must reveal all cartel offences in which you were involved, and provide full and truthful disclosures
In the case of a company or corporation, the application for immunity must be a corporate act
For more information on the cartel immunity programme please read our FAQ document.
For cartels that span more than three Member States, the European Commission and the competition authorities of other Member States adopted in 2012 a model leniency programme which sets out the main procedural and substantive rules which they believe should be common in all programmes. For further information on the Model Leniency Programme read: