High Court refuses leave for electrical cable cartel appeal

8 August 2018

The High Court has dismissed a special leave application by electrical cable manufacturer Prysmian Cavi E Sistemi S.R.L. (Prysmian), following a decision of the Full Federal Court that upheld the trial judge’s finding that the company had engaged in cartel conduct in the supply of high voltage land cables.

Prysmian is a major international cable manufacturer supplying the energy and telecommunications sectors.

The company had sought special leave to appeal against a decision handed down by the Full Federal Court in March 2018.

That decision upheld the trial judge’s finding that Prysmian had engaged in cartel conduct relating to the supply of high voltage land cables and accessories to a Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme project in 2003.

The ACCC alleged, and the Court found, that Prysmian had entered into and given effect to agreements with competitors, which involved price guidance and project allocation between competing companies.

“The High Court’s decision not to hear this appeal finalises this litigation, with the result that the original findings of cartel conduct and the penalties imposed against Prysmian apply,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“Cartel behaviour, such as price fixing and market sharing, undermines competition and increases the prices for customers and taxpayers. The ACCC will always prioritise investigation of cartel conduct causing detriment in Australia,” Mr Sims said.

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, and its appeal was dismissed by the Full Federal Court in March 2018.

Release number: 
148/18
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