CAT dismisses banking challenge

08 Dec 2008

The Competition Appeal Tribunal have dismissed the application of six individuals known as the Merger Action Group, based in Scotland, to quash the decision of the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to clear a merger between Lloyds and HBOS. In arriving at its unequivocal decision, the CAT concluded that “there is simply no basis for the allegation that the issue of the continuing need for the Merger was not properly considered by the decision-maker”.

Also of note was the CAT’s decision on standing. It decided that the members of the Merger Action Group, formed for the purpose of conducting these proceedings, had standing as a result of its “specific interest and strong feeling which the Merger has aroused in Scotland”. This decision has far reaching implications for future challenges of merger decisions, potentially opening the door for any member of the public who operates as a consumer in any relevant market, together with any individual or group with “strong feelings” associated with a particular merger, to challenge such decisions.

The Merger Action Group announced its decision yesterday not to appeal the CAT’s decision.

The Secretary of State was represented by Paul Lasok QC, Paul Harris, Elisa Holmes and Gerry Facenna.

Members of Monckton Chambers have successfully acted for the Secretary of State in each of the two public interest merger challenges which have so far been brought in the CAT. Rupert Anderson QC and Elisa Holmes acted for the Secretary of State in Sky. In that case John Swift QC, Daniel beard and Rob Williams acted for the Competition Commission.

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Paul Lasok QC
Paul Harris QC
Gerry Facenna
Elisa Holmes