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Focus Antitrust - 29 January 2014

In the News

OFT brings criminal charges in steel tanks cartel case

The OFT has announced that an individual has been charged under the cartel offence (s188 of the Enterprise Act 2002) for his participation in a suspected steel tanks cartel. The charge has been brought following the OFT’s investigation into suspected cartel activity in the supply of galvanised steel tanks for water storage.

The individual has been named as Peter Snee and is facing the charge that he dishonestly agreed with others to fix prices, rig bids and divide customers in respect of the supply of galvanised steel tanks between 2004 and 2012.

If convicted, he could face up to 5 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. The companies involved in the alleged cartel are subject to a separate related civil investigation. 

High Court rules on terms of concession awarded by Luton Airport 

The High Court has delivered its judgment in an action by Arriva The Shires Ltd (ATS), against London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (Luton Operations). ATS claimed that, in relation to the award and operation of a coach concession, Luton Operations had abused its dominant position, contrary to the Chapter II prohibition of the Competition Act 1998.

In 2013, the contract to provide a coach service between the airport and central London, which had previously been provided by ATS, was awarded to National Express. National Express was given a seven year exclusivity period (except in relation to easyBus) and a right of first refusal in relation to the operation of other services.

The High Court concluded that, assuming Luton Operations held a dominant position, it had not abused that position in the way in which it conducted the tender process for the award of the concession agreement.

However, it was held that the terms of the new concession agreement (the extended grant of exclusivity, the right of first refusal and discrimination in favour of easyBus) were abusive, in that they seriously distorted competition between coach operators wanting to provide services from the airport bus station. 



Articles 101 and 102
  • The General Court has delivered its judgments in the appeals by SKW Stahl-Metallurgie Holding and SKW Stahl-Metallurgie (SKW), Evonik Degussa (Degussa) and AlzChem Hart, and Arques Industries (now Gigaset) against the European Commission's decision on the calcium and magnesium reagents cartel.  The appeal by SKW was dismissed in its entirety. However, the fine imposed on Arques was reduced on the basis that the Commission had incorrectly set the multiplier to be applied for the duration of Arques's participation in the infringement. The fines imposed on Degussa and AlzChem Hart were also reduced on the basis that the Commission had wrongly applied a multiplier in its assessment. 
  • Details of four appeals against the General Court’s judgments on actions challenging the European Commission's decision in the Spanish bitumen cartel case have been published in the Official Journal. 
  • Details of appeals by Dornbacht and Masco against General Court judgments on their actions challenging the European Commission's decision on the bathroom fixtures and fittings cartel have been published in the Official Journal. Dornbracht is arguing that the General Court erred in assessing the fine imposed, whilst Masco is challenging the General Court's finding that it participated in a single complex
    infringement of Article 101. 
  • Details of Deutsche Bahn’s appeal against a General Court judgment that upheld the European Commission’s decision authorising unannounced inspections have been published in the Official Journal. Deutsche Bahn claims that the General Court made errors in law in relation to the need for prior court authorisation of inspection decisions, and erred in respect of the scope of the inspections conducted. 



  • The OFT has sent a statement of objections to Hamsard 3149 Limited and its subsidiaries, Quantum Pharmaceutical and Total Medication Management Services Limited (trading as Tomms Pharmacy), and to Celesio AG and its subsidiary Lloyds Pharmacy Limited (Lloyds), in relation to the OFT’s investigation of the supply of medicines to care homes. Although Hamsard has entered into a settlement
    agreement with the OFT, the OFT is required to issue a statement of objections to the parties, formally setting out its case against them and providing them with the opportunity to make representations before the OFT issues a final decision. 
  • As part of its commitment to ensuring that patients' interests are at the heart of assessing public hospital mergers, Monitor has published a consultation on its proposed approach to supporting NHS foundation trusts considering mergers. 
  • Ofcom has agreed to resolve a dispute between Gamma Telecom Holdings Limited and BT, concerning BT's historic charges for Interconnect Extension Circuits. 
  • The Competition and Markets Authority has published the final version of a strategy document which sets out its vision and values. It sets out five strategic goals including delivering effective enforcement, extending competition frontiers, refocusing consumer protection, developing integrated performance and achieving professional excellence. It also sets out the CMA's high-level strategy for the next five years. 

This article was written by Paul Stone.  

For more information please contact Paul on +44 (0)20 7203 5110 or paul.stone@crsblaw.com