It is under the remit of the Competition Authority to provide an 'amicus curiae' to the Court when needed. They have been asked to do so twice on seperate occasions in relation to the cement and concrete industry but both times refused. Below is the transcipt of an email sent to Isolde Goggin, the Chairperson of the Authority, after they refused to give an amicus curiae last February despite numerous politicians requesting them to do so as it was in the public's interest :-
"Dear Ms. Goggin,
We refer to a letter sent from your office to Philip Lee Solicitors regarding a request that the CA submit an Amicus Curiae Brief to the Competition Court in relation to the hearing that will take place tomorrow and Wednesday,in which CRH Plc and 7 other defendants are seeking to have the case brought by Framus Ltd and two others struck out on grounds of delay.
As you are aware there is a massive public interest element to having this case progress to a full hearing. For the record, we believe that during the course of a full hearing, the full extent of the national and regional cartels in the construction materials sector will be exposed. These cartels and other anti-competitive practices have artificially raised the price of construction materials for decades to the detriment of local authorities and consumers in general. As you are aware, local authorities are experiencing an unprecedented revenue crisis.
As long ago as 2004, Dr. Fingleton indicated that the CA would carry out a market study of the sector but this has never happened. On the Authority’s own admission, it is unable to fund criminal investigations and indeed undertake non criminal enforcement in any meaningful way nor is it in a position to carry out any market studies. (We should draw your attention to the recent OFT report (August 2011) into the Cement/Concrete/Aggregates sector in the UK and the OFT’s decision last month to refer the sector to the Competition Commission for a full investigation in the light of findings of a series of anti-competitive practices and structures in the sector).
The attached sample documentation identifies anti-competitive activities in the construction materials sector spanning four decades and we also provide a recent newspaper cutting in relation to the financial crisis in Sligo Co. Co.
You will agree that this is a most untenable situation which is costing consumers across the board many billions of euro annually. In the circumstances, the Authority’s decision not to assist the Court in the Public interest (and of course other reasons put forward by Philip Lee Solicitors) is indeed mind boggling and catastrophic for Irish consumers.
Perhaps you might undertake an urgent re-appraisal of theAuthority’s decision whilst bearing in mind any possible conflicts of interest that may arise.
Seamus F. Maye
International Small Business Alliance [ISBA]
Telephone: (O) 00 353 71 9168126 (M)00 353 87 6485600"