Full Federal Court dismisses cartel appeal

13 March 2018

The Full Federal Court of Australia has today dismissed an appeal by electric cable manufacturer Prysmian Cavi E Sistemi S.R.L. (Prysmian) against a ruling that it engaged in cartel conduct in the supply of high voltage land cables.

Prysmian’s cartel conduct related to the supply of high voltage land cables and accessories to a Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme project in 2003.

The Federal Court found in 2016 that Prysmian entered into and gave effect to agreements involving price guidance to competitors and project allocation. The Court ordered a penalty of $3.5 million. “We welcome the Full Court’s decision confirming the trial judge’s decision that Prysmian engaged in cartel conduct,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC is committed to pursuing cartel conduct which can cause significant harm to consumers, other businesses, and the competitive process the economy depends on,” Mr Sims said.

In its appeal to the Full Court, Prysmian argued that the trial judge erred in finding that it had engaged in cartel conduct in circumstances where the ACCC’s case against Nexans SA, another alleged participant in the conduct, had been dismissed. Prysmian also argued there were errors in the trial judge’s reliance on witness evidence.

Background

The ACCC instituted proceedings against Nexans SA, Prysmian and Viscas Corporation in relation to the price fixing and exclusionary arrangement provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (now the Competition and Consumer Act 2010).

The contravening conduct formed part of an overarching arrangement or understanding between a group of European and Japanese cable suppliers which provided for the allocation of projects around the world.

In 2013, the Federal Court imposed a penalty of $1.35 million against Japanese cable supplier, Viscas Corporation, for its part in the conduct.

In 2016, the Federal Court found that Prysmian had engaged in cartel conduct but dismissed the ACCC’s case against Nexans SA.

In July 2017 the Federal Court ordered a penalty against Prysmian of $3.5 million. Prysmian appealed the decision in August 2017.

Release number: 
34/18
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