Disqualified Brown and Mason Group Director's High Court bid denied
By Law News
High Court rejects Nicholas Brown's bid to continue as director after illegal cartel involvement disqualification
In a recent decision, the High Court has dismissed an application by Nicholas Brown to remain in his directorial role following his disqualification by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Brown, the former Managing Director of the Brown and Mason Group, was penalised for his involvement in an illegal demolition cartel that led to a £60 million fine for 10 construction firms in March 2023.
The CMA uncovered that Brown played a central role in two breaches of competition law, affecting demolition contracts worth over £30 million. As part of the illegal agreements, Brown received £700,000 in 'compensation payments' from two competitors. The payments were falsely documented through invoices for non-existent goods and services issued by Brown and Mason.
Despite Brown's admission of wrongdoing and his subsequent undertaking of a 7-year disqualification in May 2023, he sought permission from the High Court in July 2023 to continue as a director of Brown and Mason Limited and its holding company NRLB Limited. Brown argued that his services were crucial for the companies.
However, the High Court rejected Brown's application, agreeing with the CMA that the nature and severity of his actions, coupled with the importance of director disqualification, warranted the denial. The Court emphasized that granting an exemption for Brown would excessively intrude into the public benefit of his disqualification.
Juliette Enser, the CMA’s Senior Director of Cartels, emphasised the significance of director disqualifications in safeguarding the public and holding top executives accountable for breaches of competition law. The Court's decision, she noted, underscores the powerful deterrent effect of personal consequences.
While Brown may continue in his post under strict conditions until July 28, 2024, for a run-off period facilitating the transition at the companies, he will be prohibited from acting as a director or participating in any company's management until July 29, 2030. The judgment sends a clear message that protecting the public interest should not be compromised.