CAT upholds Competition Commission decision requiring BAA to sell Stansted

01 Feb 2012 | by Caroline Sweeney

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has today dismissed the challenge by BAA Limited to the Competition Commission’s July 2011 decision requiring BAA to sell Stansted Airport.

This was BAA’s second challenge to decisions of the Commission requiring that Stansted be sold so as to increase the scope for competition in the provision of airport services in South-east England.  The Commission first took such a decision in March 2009 following a market investigation into competition in the provision of airport services across the UK.  BAA’s challenge to that decision, which was the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal and subsequently an application to the Supreme Court in early 2011, was ultimately unsuccessful.  BAA then argued that, in the time that had passed since the March 2009 decision, i.e. while BAA’s challenge was ongoing, circumstances had changed.  In particular, BAA argued that the new Coalition Government’s policy of opposing the building of new runways in South-east England was a change in circumstances that meant that the scope for competition between airports was reduced and the sale of Stansted could no longer be justified.  It was the Commission’s decision rejecting those arguments that was the subject of BAA’s second challenge which the Tribunal dismissed today.

The Tribunal (chaired by Mr Justice Sales) dismissed BAA’s case in relation to all four of its grounds of challenge.  The dismissal means that BAA remains required to sell Stansted within a timeframe that BAA and the Commission have agreed.

Monckton barristers Daniel Beard QC and Alan Bates represented the Commission.  Paul Harris QC represented Ryanair, which intervened in the case urging the Tribunal to uphold the Commission’s decision.