16 July 2015

CMA fines eye surgeons’ membership organisation £500,000

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined a membership organisation of private consultant ophthalmologists £500,000 following an investigation into anti-competitive information exchange and pricing agreements. This fine will be reduced to £425,000 if the organisation continues to co-operate with the CMA’s investigation. 

The membership organisation, Consultant Eye Surgeons Partnership (CESP) Limited, represents the interests of 37 limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and their 200 consultant members based across the UK. It provides its members with a number of services including access to negotiated contracts with private medical insurers. Each LLP has a representative on CESP’s board.

CESP has admitted to infringing competition law and the CMA has this week issued a statement of objections. The CMA intends to issue a final infringement decision next month.

CESP accepts liability for a number of infringements during the period from September 2008 to date, which include: 

  • Recommending that its members refuse to accept lower fees offered by an insurer, and that they charge insured patients higher self-pay fees. 
  • Circulating amongst its members detailed price lists for ophthalmic procedures such as cataract surgery to be used with insurers.  These prices did not pass on lower local costs (such as cheaper hospital fees) and made it harder for insurers and patients to obtain lower prices. 
  • Facilitating the sharing of consultants’ future pricing and business intentions such as whether to sign up to a private hospital group’s package price, which enabled members to align their responses.

The fine includes a discount of £75,000 to reflect the resource savings generated by CESP’s admissions and continual agreement to co-operate. CESP also proposes to implement a comprehensive compliance programme and may benefit from a further reduction in its fine if this is implemented to the CMA’s satisfaction before the CMA issues its infringement decision.  

Ann Pope, CMA Senior Director of Antitrust Enforcement, said that as a result of CESP’s anti-competitive conduct, it is harder for insurers and patients to obtain lower fees.

This is the first time formal competition law enforcement action has been taken against medical professionals in the UK. The CMA notes that it is committed to taking action in specialised and regulated sectors including the professions and makes it clear that membership organisations and their members are not outside the scope of competition law or its penalties.

A Guide to Doing Business in China

We explore the key issues being considered by clients looking to unlock investment opportunities in the People’s Republic of China.

Doing Business in China
Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
    You might also be interested in

    We discusses recent developments and emerging trends in competition litigation involving the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

    28 November 2016

    The European Commission’s proposed Geo-Blocking Regulation fails to address some of the key e-commerce concerns the Commission had previously identified.

    21 June 2016

    This article was written by Andrew Morrison (associate) Ultra Finishings On 10 May 2016 the UK Competition and Markets Authority (the CMA) fined Ultra Finishing Limited (Ultra) £786,668 for...

    21 June 2016

    European Commission refrains from imposing regulations specifically targeting online platforms, for now. General EU e-commerce rules will however apply.

    20 June 2016

    This site uses cookies to enhance your experience and to help us improve the site. Please see our Privacy Policy for further information. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive these cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

    For more information on which cookies we use then please refer to our Cookie Policy.