Model behaviour: the Competition and Markets Authority fines modelling agencies for colluding on price

On 16 December 2016, the CMA announced that it had fined 5 modelling agencies, FM Models, Models 1, Premier, Storm and Viva, as well as their trade association, the Association of Model Agents (“AMA”) a total of £1.5 million for infringing competition law.

The CMA considers that the agencies and the AMA colluded instead of competing on prices for modelling services between April 2013 and March 2015. They regularly and systematically exchanged information and discussed pricing in the context of negotiations with customers. In some cases they agreed to fix minimum prices or agreed a common approach to pricing. The CMA also found that the modelling agencies and the AMA sought to influence other members of the AMA by regularly issuing email circulars encouraging them to resist lower prices offered by customers.

The CMA’s decision serves as a reminder to be aware of the risk that trade associations may be used by participants to reach anti-competitive agreements. Businesses should ensure that employees participating in trade association meetings are trained in competition law. If sensitive issues arise at a meeting, employees should leave immediately and ensure their departure is noticed and recorded. Do get in touch with our competition team if you would like assistance with competition law training.

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