OFT ruling on Tesco price-fixing overturned

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.”


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