The Competition Tribunal has received new applications for certificates against unscrupulous construction companies, which means that more civil claims could be coming up.
In November 2013 we reported that the door had been opened for civil claims against companies found guilty in the bid-rigging and collusion construction scandal, with the issuing of the first four certificates. The 15 companies involved were collectively fined R1.46-billion, but that’s not the end of it for them.
News reports now reveal that the Competition Tribunal has received an application from the Department of Economic Development for 64 certificates. It has not been made clear against which construction companies these will be issued, or to which projects they relate.
In a submission made in mid-2013 to the Competition Tribunal, Corruption Watch called for all those affected by the collusive tendering in the construction industry – including municipalities, provinces and private entities – to institute civil claims for damages suffered. Our call is being answered.
Legal battle ahead
In November the Competition Tribunal issued four certificates to the City of Cape Town to enable civil claims against construction companies who are among those recently found guilty of collusion and fined a total of R1.46-billion by the Competition Commission. The certificates give details of the tribunal’s findings against the accused – they are proof that the matter has been finalised by the tribunal, and also serve as proof of the offending act, thereby paving the way for civil claims to go ahead.
The certificates were issued against Aveng, Stefanutti Stocks and Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon, for work relating to the construction of the Cape Town stadium.
At the same time it was reported that the South African National Roads Agency had applied for 35 certificates relating to bid-rigging of road building tenders, and that the tribunal was preparing these documents.
And there's most likely more to come – in mid-2013 the South African Local Government Association announced that some of its members would seek to institute claims against construction companies for projects relating to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, mainly stadiums and associated infrastructure.
“We plan to claim as much as we can from the construction companies,” said Lance Joel, chief of operations at the association, at the time. He added that municipalities would do their utmost to recoup the money.
Experts have said that arriving at an accurate figure for the damages could take time and would require close analysis.