DBA acts on restrictive contracts

Design consultancies are being trapped by restrictive, anti-competitive and potentially unlawful contracts, Design Week can reveal.

However, there is likely to be little action from the Office of Fair Trading before the autumn.

The Design Business Association first raised the issue of anti-competitive contracts with the OFT in January (DW 19 January).

Although the DBA’s initiative is making slower progress than it had hoped, according to chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill, it is working with solicitors who are reviewing the contracts of 12 design consultancies that have agreed to take part.

“In just about every contract that we have looked at so far, the OFT has said that at least one clause is anti-competitive,” says Rowland-Hill.

Fmcg clients are among the worst offenders, some demanding that groups sign contracts preventing them from working competitors’ business in perpetuity.

Others demand automatic ownership of all work and some seek to make design groups responsible for all issues concerning implementation of designs.

“I don’t expect anything to happen before September or October because of the summer holidays,” Rowland-Hill adds.

Latest articles