Define: Collusive Action

Collusive Action
Collusive Action
Quick Summary of Collusive Action

Collusive action refers to a dishonest or fraudulent agreement between parties involved in a legal matter to deceive or manipulate the legal process for their mutual benefit or to the detriment of others. This collusion typically involves secret or improper cooperation to achieve a predetermined outcome, such as fabricating evidence, misleading the court, or entering into a sham transaction. Collusive actions undermine the fairness and integrity of the legal system and are generally prohibited by law. Courts may invalidate agreements or decisions tainted by collusion and may impose sanctions or penalties on the parties involved. The goal of prohibiting collusive action is to ensure the integrity of judicial proceedings and uphold the principles of justice and fairness.

What is the dictionary definition of Collusive Action?
Dictionary Definition of Collusive Action

n. a lawsuit brought by parties pretending to be adversaries in order to obtain by subterfuge an advisory opinion or precedent-setting decision from the court. If a judge determines the action does not involve a true controversy, he/she will dismiss it.

Full Definition Of Collusive Action

A collusive action refers to a coordinated effort between two or more parties to manipulate or control a particular market or industry. This can involve agreements or arrangements that restrict competition, such as price-fixing, bid-rigging, or market allocation. Collusive actions are generally considered illegal and are subject to penalties under antitrust laws.

Collusive action, within the context of law, refers to activities where two or more parties conspire to deceive or defraud others, often resulting in economic or legal harm. This overview provides a comprehensive examination of collusive action, focusing on its definition, forms, legal implications, regulatory frameworks, and notable case studies, particularly within British jurisprudence.

Definition and Forms of Collusive Action

Collusive action can broadly be defined as an agreement or cooperation between parties to achieve an improper or illegal objective. Such actions are typically clandestine and intended to deceive third parties or gain unfair advantage. The primary forms of collusive action include:

  1. Price Fixing: An agreement among competitors to set prices at a certain level, rather than allowing market forces to determine them.
  2. Bid Rigging: Collusion among competitors to manipulate the outcome of a bidding process, often ensuring that a particular party wins the bid.
  3. Market Division: Competitors agree to divide markets among themselves, ensuring that they do not compete within certain geographical areas or for specific customers.
  4. Corporate Fraud: Involves executives or employees conspiring to deceive shareholders, regulators, or the public to present a false image of the company’s financial health.
  5. Insurance Fraud: Parties collude to make false claims to insurance companies to receive payouts they are not entitled to.

Legal Implications

Civil Liability

In civil law, individuals or entities harmed by collusive actions can seek damages. The primary legal grounds for civil action include:

  • Breach of Contract: When collusion results in the violation of contractual terms.
  • The tort of deceit: if collusion involves fraudulent misrepresentation,.
  • Antitrust Violations: Breaches of competition law, particularly under statutes like the Competition Act 1998.

Criminal Liability

Collusive actions often constitute criminal offences, particularly when they involve fraud or conspiracy to defraud. The relevant statutes include:

  • The Fraud Act 2006 addresses various forms of fraud, including false representation, failure to disclose information, and abuse of position.
  • Criminal Law Act 1977: Pertains to conspiracies, including those formed to commit fraudulent acts.
  • Competition Act 1998: Encompasses offences related to anti-competitive agreements and practices.

Regulatory Frameworks

Competition Law

Competition law, primarily governed by the Competition Act 1998 and enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), seeks to prevent and penalise anti-competitive behaviour. Key provisions include:

  • Chapter I Prohibition: Prohibits agreements, concerted practices, and decisions by associations that prevent, restrict, or distort competition.
  • Chapter II Prohibition: Targets abuse of dominant market positions.

The CMA has the authority to investigate suspected collusion, impose fines, and require businesses to cease anti-competitive practices.

Fraud Legislation

The Fraud Act 2006 modernised the law on fraud, introducing a general offence of fraud, which can be committed by false representation, failure to disclose information when there is a legal duty to do so, or abuse of position. The Act provides robust mechanisms for prosecuting collusive actions involving deception.

Enforcement and Penalties

Civil Remedies

Victims of collusive actions can pursue various civil remedies, including:

  • Damages: Compensation for financial loss or harm suffered.
  • Injunctions: Court orders to prevent ongoing or future collusive actions.
  • Restitution: Recovery of unjust gains obtained through collusion.

Criminal Penalties

Criminal penalties for collusion-related offences can be severe, encompassing:

  • Fines: Substantial financial penalties.
  • Imprisonment: Custodial sentences for individuals involved in collusion.
  • Disqualification: Directors and officers may be disqualified from holding corporate positions.

Case Studies

Case 1: R v Ghosh (1982)

In this landmark case, Dr. Ghosh, a surgeon, was convicted of defrauding the National Health Service by claiming payments for operations he did not perform. The case established the test for dishonesty in criminal law, a crucial component in many collusion cases. The court outlined that conduct is dishonest if it is considered dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people and if the defendant realised that their conduct was dishonest by those standards.

Case 2: Office of Fair Trading v Abbey National PLC (2009)

This case involved the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the predecessor to the CMA, investigating Abbey National PLC and other banks for colluding to fix charges on unauthorised overdrafts. The OFT argued that the charges were unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. The case highlighted the complexities of proving collusion in financial markets and the role of regulatory bodies in enforcing competition law.

Case 3: CMA Investigation into Pharmaceuticals (2020)

The CMA fined several pharmaceutical companies for colluding to overcharge the NHS for hydrocortisone tablets. The companies were found to have entered into anti-competitive agreements to prevent competition in the supply of the drug, leading to significantly higher prices. The case underscored the importance of regulatory oversight in protecting public interests and maintaining market integrity.

International Perspectives

Collusive actions are not confined to national borders and often require international cooperation for effective enforcement. The UK’s approach to tackling collusion is in line with international standards, as reflected in its participation in:

  • European Union Competition Law: Although the UK has left the EU, it remains aligned with many EU competition principles, particularly those concerning cross-border collusion.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): The UK adheres to OECD guidelines on combating international cartels and collusion.

Challenges and Future Directions


  1. Detection: Collusive actions are inherently secretive, making detection challenging. Whistleblowers and leniency programmes play crucial roles in uncovering collusion.
  2. Proving Intent: Establishing the intent behind collusive actions is often difficult, requiring substantial evidence of conspiracy or fraudulent intent.
  3. Complexity of Markets: In complex markets, distinguishing between legitimate collaboration and collusion can be challenging, necessitating nuanced legal and economic analysis.

Future Directions

  1. Enhanced Surveillance: The use of advanced data analytics and AI to detect patterns indicative of collusion.
  2. Stronger whistleblower protections: encouraging insiders to report collusion without fear of retaliation.
  3. International Collaboration: Strengthening cooperation between international regulatory bodies to combat cross-border collusive actions effectively.


Collusive action remains a significant legal and economic concern, with substantial implications for market integrity and public trust. The UK’s robust legal framework, encompassing both civil and criminal remedies, aims to deter and penalise collusion, protecting consumers and businesses alike. However, ongoing challenges in detection and enforcement necessitate continuous evolution in legal and regulatory approaches, ensuring that the legal system remains equipped to address the complexities of collusive behaviour in an increasingly interconnected global economy. Through vigilant enforcement, international cooperation, and adaptive legal strategies, the fight against collusion can be sustained, fostering fair competition and economic justice.

Collusive Action FAQ'S

Collusive action refers to a secret agreement or conspiracy between parties to achieve a fraudulent or unlawful purpose, often to deceive a court or third party.

Collusive action involves deceptive cooperation aimed at misleading others, while legitimate cooperation between parties involves transparent and lawful interactions.

Some common examples of collusive action include parties agreeing to fabricate evidence, staging fake transactions, or manipulating legal proceedings to achieve an unjust outcome.

Engaging in collusive action can result in severe legal consequences, including the invalidation of agreements, sanctions, fines, or criminal charges for fraud or perjury.

Collusive action can be detected through inconsistencies in evidence, suspicious patterns of behaviour, or whistle-blowers who reveal the existence of secret agreements.

Some legal remedies for collusive action include setting aside fraudulent agreements, imposing sanctions on the parties involved, or pursuing civil or criminal litigation.

Defences against allegations of collusive action may include demonstrating the absence of fraudulent intent, a lack of evidence supporting collusion, or procedural irregularities.

Collusive action can occur in various legal proceedings, including civil lawsuits, divorce proceedings, bankruptcy cases, and criminal trials.

Collusive action undermines the integrity of the legal system by eroding trust in the fairness and impartiality of judicial processes and compromising the rights of innocent parties.

Some preventive measures against collusive action include promoting transparency in legal proceedings, imposing severe penalties for fraudulent conduct, and fostering ethical standards among legal professionals.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 9th June 2024.

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