Claimants Fall At First Fence As Initial ‘Racing’ Judgment Is Announced

11 Aug 2008

Judgment was given on 8 August 2008 in British Afternoon Greyhound Racing Services (and others) v Amalgamated Racing Ltd (and others). The case concerned a challenge under Article 81/Chapter I to the lawfulness of licensing arrangements for the supply of a new televised service, known as Turf TV, which shows live horseracing in licensed betting offices (“LBOs”).

Until the advent of Turf TV, there was a single monopoly supplier of live televised horseracing in LBOs known as SIS. In order to introduce competition into the market, 31 British racecourses entered into a joint venture with Alphameric to create a new distributor, AMRAC, with the racecourses licensing their exclusive LBO rights to AMRAC. The claimants, which included three of the four largest bookmakers in the UK, alleged that the courses had licensed their LBO rights on a collective, exclusive and closed basis in breach of Article 81/Chapter I. During the course of the trial, it was also alleged that the racecourses and AMRAC had engaged in price fixing.

The claim was comprehensively dismissed by Mr Justice Morgan who found that there had been no price fixing and that the licensing arrangements did not infringe Article 81(1) or Chapter I. Judgment on a counterclaim alleging collusion by some of the claimants in collectively refusing to take the new Turf TV service and denying sponsorship to courses that had joined in the new venture will be given separately next term.

The defendants were represented by Peter Roth QC, Paul Harris, Ronit Kreisberger and Ewan West instructed by Wiggin LLP.

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Paul Harris QC
Ronit Kreisberger
Ewan West