UK: Focus Antitrust - 3 April 2013

Last Updated: 15 April 2013
Article by Paul Stone and Elora Mukherjee

In the News

CAT awards damages in Albion Water case

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has issued its judgment on the claim for damages brought by Albion Water against Dŵr Cymru under section 47A of the Competition Act 1998. The claim was based on the previous finding by the CAT that Dŵr Cymru had infringed the Chapter II prohibition of the Competition Act. In particular, the CAT had held that the price at which Dŵr Cymru was prepared to offer Albion a common carriage service to carry water through its pipes amounted to an abuse by Dŵr Cymru of its dominant position, in that it imposed on Albion a margin squeeze and was both excessive and unfair in itself. The CAT awarded Albion damages of £1.7 million in respect of its claim that, had Dŵr Cymru offered a lawful price for common carriage, Albion would have been able to supply its customer, Shotton Paper, on the basis of common carriage, which would have been more profitable than the existing arrangements. The CAT also awarded Albion damages of £160,000 in respect of its claim that, as a result of the abuse, Albion lost the chance to win a potentially lucrative contract to supply another business, Corus Shotton. However, the CAT dismissed Albion's claim for exemplary damages. Click here.

OFT issues five infringement decisions in the distribution of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles investigation

The OFT has issued decisions finding that Mercedes-Benz and five of its commercial vehicles dealers infringed the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and has imposed total fines of £2.8 million. Each of the five decisions relates to separate infringements that took place over different periods between March 2007 and January 2010, involving different parties. The nature of the infringements varied but all contained at least some element of market sharing, price co-ordination or the exchange of commercially sensitive information. These decisions follow settlements with Ciceley, Enza, Mercedes-Benz and Road Range announced in February. Another party, Northside, has avoided a fine under the OFT's leniency policy. The remaining dealer, H&L Garages, did not settle with the OFT. Click here.



  • The European Commission is consulting on proposals to simplify procedures under the EU Merger Regulation. The proposed changes would enable more mergers to qualify for review under the Commission's simplified procedure. In addition, the Commission proposes to reduce the amount of information required to notify mergers. Click here.



  • The Scottish Court of Session has published a ruling in an action relating to a dispute involving foreign broadcast of Scottish Premier League (SPL) football matches by a pub in the West of Scotland. The SPL was seeking to enforce an undertaking given by the pub not to broadcast live matches. However, the court concluded that the facts were virtually identical to those considered by the ECJ in the English Premier League case, where the ECJ ruled that provisions of exclusive licence agreements that prohibit the supply of decoder cards to TV viewers who wish to watch broadcasts outside the member state for which the licence is granted constitute a breach of Article 101. As a result, the SPL's claim was dismissed. The court also considered that there was a prima facie case for the pub's counterclaim for damages for breach of Article 101. Click here

Competition Appeal Tribunal

  • The CAT has dismissed the application by John Lewis under section 179 of the Enterprise Act 2002 for review of the OFT decision in relation to the content of a price comparison website to be set up under the undertakings given in the extended warranties for domestic electrical goods case. John Lewis was concerned that its warranty products would not be included in the website. The CAT concluded that the decision that was being challenged was, in reality, made by the OFT on 27 June 2012, when the OFT published its decision in relation to the market investigation reference and accepted the undertakings in lieu of a reference. Two of the grounds of review were therefore brought out of time. The other ground of review (that the OFT was in breach of its duties in relation to the implementation of the undertakings) was dismissed on the basis that the undertakings were being implemented in accordance with their terms. Click here.
  • The CAT has extended the time for Somerfield and Gallaher to appeal against the OFT's tobacco decision. Although Somerfield and Gallaher did not initially appeal the OFT's decision (on the basis that they had entered into early resolution agreements with the OFT), other addressees did bring successful appeals, which led to the OFT accepting that it could not maintain the theory of harm that it had set out in its decision. The CAT concluded that these exceptional circumstances justified extending the deadline for Somerfield and Gallaher to lodge appeals. Click here.

Competition Commission

  • The Competition Commission has provisionally decided to allow variations to the merger undertakings given by FirstGroup in 2004 when it took over the Scottish rail franchise. The variations will allow FirstGroup to withdraw one bus service and modify two other services in the Glasgow area. Click here.
  • The Competition Commission has accepted final undertakings in the Rank/Gala Casinos merger. Click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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