Hogan Lovells is Successful in Competition Appeal Tribunal Tobacco Pricing Case
13 December 2011
LONDON, 13 December 2011 - Hogan Lovells has successfully acted for Morrisons and Safeway in a high-profile court battle to overturn a decision of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) alleging anti-competitive conduct and imposing record fines.
The OFT's findings and the fines - which had been imposed on Morrisons (£8.6m), Safeway (£10.9m), Asda (£14m), Co-operative Group (£14.1m), Imperial Tobacco (£112.3m), and Shell (£3.3m) – have been overturned by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
In a decision, issued in April 2010, the OFT had alleged that, between 2001 and 2003, Morrisons, Safeway and other retailers had each entered into agreements, with each of Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher, to co-ordinate the retail prices for tobacco products in stores, in pursuit of the pricing strategies of Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher.
However, in its judgment of 12 December, the CAT quashed the OFT's decision.
Suyong Kim, a partner in Hogan Lovells' Antitrust, Competition and Economic Regulations practice said:
"The judgment followed the OFT's admission that its case could not be supported by factual evidence and its belated attempt to put forward what it called a "refined" case was found to fall outside the terms of the contested decision. To have the OFT's case fall apart mid-trial is pretty dramatic but we had always been confident that the OFT's case was factually unfounded and legally flawed, not least because the OFT tried to apply analysis which is appropriate to a covert cartel when there was nothing clandestine or inappropriate about the contacts between the tobacco manufacturers and the retailers."
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