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Commerce Commission appeals cardboard cartel ruling

Friday 6th May 2011

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The Commerce Commission is appealing a High Court decision last month that limited its claims in a case alleging price fixing by Australian packaging giants Visy Board Pty and Amcor for customers including Fonterra.

The High Court at Auckland reduced the number of claims the commission can pursue against Visy and its former general manager Rod Carroll. The decision allowed the commission to take to trial claims that Visy Board and Amcor Ltd fixed prices for a Fonterra tender, and were parties to an over-arching understanding to fix prices between them.

Justice Paul Heath said that the commission had demonstrated a plausible foundation for bringing a case on the Fonterra tender and the over-arching understanding, and that there was a serious issue to be tried on the merits. Other claims were ruled to be outside the commission's jurisdiction.

"The commission has decided to appeal this decision. The issue is important to us not only for this case, but because we believe the judgment is wrong in law and sets an unhelpful precedent for future enforcement cases," said commission general counsel for enforcement Mary-Anne Borrowdale.

The Federal Court of Australia has imposed penalties against Visy and its owner, Richard Pratt, and against Carroll. But Visy and Carroll deny that the cartel arrangements extended to New Zealand and objected to the commission's ability to pursue its claims in New Zealand.



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