The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has overturned a ruling the Tesco fixed the price of cheese with other retailers in 2003.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) imposed fines of £10 million on the supermarket group last year, following an investigation into price fixing in 2002 and 2003.
However, the CAT ruled on Wednesday that there was “insufficient evidence” to conclude that Tesco had been involved in a concerted price-fixing effort in 2003.
As a result of this ruling, the £10 million fine imposed by the OFT could be significantly reduced in a hearing next year.
Reacting shortly after the ruling, a Tesco spokesman said: “We are pleased with today‘s decision by the CAT.
“We have always maintained that we were not part of an overall plan to collude on prices.”
The CAT found Tesco guilty of communicating price information to other retailers through a common supplier on three occasions in 2002, but said that it needed more evidence to decide if the retailer was part of a concerted price-fixing effort in that year.
In a statement, the Oft said that it “welcomes the CAT‘s confirmation that a concerted practice consisting of indirect contact between competitors via their common supplier is no different in substance from two competing retailers sitting across a table and telling each other what their prices will be next week.”
It added: “This judgement sends a clear signal to all businesses that this conduct infringes competition law.”