CAT Dismisses Appeal against Cartel Penalty

14 Mar 2007


The Competition Appeal Tribunal has dismissed an appeal against a cartel penalty imposed under Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 against Sepia Logistics Ltd, formerly Double Quick Supplyline Limited.

The appellant manufactured components for use in double glazed windows.  It admitted its liability for what the Tribunal described as a “very serious infringement” of the Chapter I prohibition which concerned both price fixing and market sharing.  It challenged the quantum of the penalty imposed on grounds, inter alia, of financial hardship.  The OFT had considered, but rejected those contentions.  During the course of the penalty appeal, the Appellant produced a quantity of additional information on its financial position, but the Tribunal noted there remained “certain grey areas”.

The Tribunal upheld the OFT’s decision on all points.  It rejected a submission by the Appellant it was incumbent on the OFT to carry out additional investigations of its financial position, noting:

“where an undertaking is making a plea for a mitigated penalty to a regulatory (whether under the auspices of a formal leniency policy or otherwise, as was the case here), the onus must be on the applicant to provide the regulator with all information and/or documentation needed to assess its application and not on the regulator to actively seek out or require production of those documents and/or that information.”

The Tribunal’s decision also contains a valuable analysis of the circumstances in which two or more companies in the same group may be considered to be a single undertaking for the purposes of competition law.

Tim Ward represented the OFT.