Tribunal awards costs against party withdrawing complaint referral

On 21 November 2012 the Competition Tribunal awarded costs against the Protea Group in respect of a complaint initiated, and interim relief application launched, by Protea against the Invensys Group.

Protea is a former distributor of the Invensys Group's products in South Africa. Protea alleged that the manner in which Invensys terminated its distribution arrangement amounted to an abuse of dominance and was, as result, in contravention of the Competition Act.

Protea filed a direct referral of the matter to the Tribunal and applied for interim relief after the Competition Commission issued a notice of non-referral. Following an exception filed by Invensys, Protea withdrew their direct referral and interim relief applications, but did not tender to pay for the costs of the aborted applications. Invensys responded by bringing an application for costs.

The Tribunal decided that, despite the stated intention of Protea to reinstate their referral, a decision to directly refer had commenced and terminated when it was instituted before and subsequently withdrawn from the Tribunal. Invensys was therefore entitled to be awarded costs for both the direct referral and the interim relief application, as these actions were inseparable. The Tribunal awarded costs on a party and party scale.


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