ACCC comments on Pratt proceedings

29 April 2009

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission notes Justice Ryan's reasons on the question of admissibility of the four documents which have been the subject of separate legal proceedings in the Federal Court in relation to Mr Richard Pratt.

Justice Ryan announced in the Federal Court on Monday 27 April that he had decided the documents in question were inadmissible in evidence in the main case.

The four documents are:

  • terms of the proposed order against Mr Pratt agreed as a result of the meeting chaired by Mr Michael McHugh QC
  • an agreed statement as to the consolidation of the penalty which would otherwise be imposed on Mr Pratt with the Visy Company penalty in the civil matter, ACCC v Visy
  • the part of the Agreed Statement of Facts which relates to Mr Pratt
  • Mr Pratt's amended defence.

The ACCC takes this opportunity to clarify the processes adopted by it and the CDPP in relation to this matter.

The ACCC has a public duty to refer all matters which may warrant criminal prosecution to the CDPP, together with relevant evidence.

The CDPP alone determines whether a prosecution will proceed. He does so pursuant to the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. That policy has two pillars:

  • that there are reasonable prospects of conviction, and
  • and that the prosecution is in the public interest.

This is the process that was adopted by the ACCC in the proceedings relating to Mr Pratt.

The conduct of a criminal prosecution is entirely controlled by the CDPP. Throughout the case, the CDPP has continuous regard to the two pillars of the prosecution policy – reasonable prospects of conviction, and whether the pursuit of the prosecution remains in the public interest.

In evidence given by ACCC CEO Mr Brian Cassidy on 9 December 2008, he testified that the ACCC did not contemplate that the principal documents as being admissible until late in the development of the case.

The prosecution's case filed in this matter would have relied upon a range of evidence, most of which was not the subject of Justice Ryan's orders on 27 April 2009.

The ACCC and its officers, in their investigation and decision making processes, have acted at all times properly and in good faith in pursuit of their public responsibilities.

The ACCC maintains that it has acted at all times in accordance with its public responsibility, and remains cognisant of the fact that both it and the CDPP must at all times have regard to the public interest in pursuing actions of this nature.

Release number: 
NR 095/09
ACCC Infocentre: 

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