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Court of Appeal upholds OFT decisions in price fixing cases

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of the OFT in three linked cases relating to price fixing in the toys and games market and in the supply of replica football kit. This is the first time the Court of Appeal has ruled in cases of this nature under the Competition Act 1998.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Court of Appeal upholds OFT decisions in price fixing cases

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of the OFT in three linked cases relating to price fixing in the toys and games market and in the supply of replica football kit. This is the first time the Court of Appeal has ruled in cases of this nature under the Competition Act 1998.

The Court of Appeal dismissed in full both Argos and Littlewoods' appeals against liability for their part in price fixing certain toys and games. Similarly th
e Court of Appeal dismissed in full JJB Sports' appeal against liability for their price fixing conduct in relation to replica football kit. The appeals by Argos, Littlewoods and JJB on the amount of penalties each was respectively given by the Competition Appeal Tribunal were also dismissed.

The judgment provides welcome confirmation of the OFT's approach as to the types of behaviour by retailers and suppliers which are illegal under the Competition Act 1998 and clarity on the way in which penalties for infringements of the Competition Act should be considered and imposed. Argos, Littlewoods and JJB are liable for substantial penalties: Argos is liable for a penalty of 15 million, Littlewoods has a penalty of 4.5 million and JJB is liable for a penalty of 6.7 million.

John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive, said 'This is great news for the consumer. Anti-competitive agreements between firms to fix prices substantially harm customers. The OFT is determined to detect and punish those that are involved in agreements such as this and this judgment confirms our approach.'

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