UK Law

The Emerging Contribution of Director Disqualification in UK Competition Law

By Peter Whelan (University of Leeds)

The enforcement of UK competition law is deterrence-focused and comprises both criminal and non-criminal (i.e., civil/administrative) elements. This chapter critically evaluates a particular non-criminal enforcement mechanism that has been gaining increasing importance throughout the recent development of UK competition enforcement practice: the use of director disqualification. It first establishes the normative role of director disqualification in the UK’s armory of non-criminal antitrust sanctions (i.e., its complementing of the deterrent function of corporate antitrust fines), following which it highlights its potential for performing this role effectively. It then outlines the legal basis for the use of director disqualification within the UK and evaluates the policy and enforcement practice to date with respect to such orders, before proceeding to outline some of the insights that the UK director disqualification regime can provide to other jurisdictions. Ultimately it concludes that, on the basis of the promising, albeit nascent, UK experience to date, director disqualification should be seriously considered by jurisdictions that wish to operate a robust competition law enforcement regime.

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