The Competition Appeal Tribunal has dismissed a stand-alone abuse of dominance claim against Ede and Ravenscroft, which has been appointed by a large number of UK universities as the ‘official supplier’ of academic dress and other services in relation to those universities’ graduation ceremonies. The claim was brought by Churchill Gowns, a ‘start-up’ company that has sought to establish itself as a ‘business-to-consumer’ supplier of academic dress to students attending graduation ceremonies. Churchill sought to challenge the Ede and Ravenscroft’s official supplier arrangements on the grounds that they constituted unlawful exclusive supply agreements, contrary to sections 2 and 18 of the Competition Act 1998. The CAT dismissed the claims in their entirety, holding (in summary) that Churchill’s failure to establish itself in the market was not caused by any abuse of dominance or anti-competitive agreements involving Ede and Ravenscroft, but rather by universities’ own preferences as to how best to organise their own graduation ceremonies.
Michael Armitage (led by Conall Patton QC of One Essex Court Chambers) acted for the successful defendant, Ede and Ravenscroft, throughout the proceedings before the CAT (instructed by Bree Taylor of Alius Law).
A copy of the judgment be found here.