The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has, for the first
time, used its power to ban a director for breaches of competition
In August 2016 the CMA found that Trod Ltd and GB eye Ltd had
entered into an anti-competitive arrangement for retail sales of
licensed sport and entertainment posters and frames (including
poster frames) which they both sold on Amazon UK, having agreed not
to undercut each other on prices where there was no cheaper third
party seller on Amazon UK. They had utilised automated software to
implement the arrangement. Trod Ltd was fined £163, 271. In
December, the CMA announced further action, this time against Mr
Daniel Aston, who was Trod's managing director at the relevant
The CMA found that Mr Aston had personally contributed to the
breach of competition law, and concluded that his conduct made him
unfit to be a company director for a specified period. The CMA may,
under the Company Directors Disqualification Act, seek the
disqualification of an individual, either by court order or legally
binding undertaking, from holding company directorships or
performing certain roles in relation to a company for up to 15
years, where that individual has been director of a company which
has breached competition law.
The CMA accepted an undertaking from Mr Aston not to act as a
director of any UK company for five years. Like a formal
disqualification order, the undertaking means that Mr Aston must
not act as a director of any company registered in the UK or of any
overseas company with UK connections such as running a business or
having assets here, nor may he be involved in forming, marketing or
running a company even if not appointed as a director.
Michael Grenfell, Executive Director for Enforcement at the CMA,
"The responsibility to ensure that companies don't
engage in illegal anti-competitive practices is an important one,
and company directors should not shirk that responsibility. The
business community should be clear that the CMA will continue to
look at the conduct of directors of companies that have broken
competition law, and, where appropriate, we are absolutely prepared
to use this power again."
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