четверг, 1 марта 2012 г.

Fed: Retailers challenge ACCC in High Court

AAP General News (Australia)
Fed: Retailers challenge ACCC in High Court

CANBERRA, Dec 10 AAP - Two of Australia's largest retailers are taking the competition
watchdog to the high court after it alleged they tried to stop small bottle shops from
doing business.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had sought documents from
Coles Myer and Woolworths to determine whether or not the companies struck agreements
with liquor shops to restrict the sale of alcohol.

The ACCC investigation followed complaints that established bottleshop operators tried
to ensure new hotel operators do not compete against them.

The alleged agreements, if true, could have forced consumers to pay higher prices for
takeaway liquor with less choice and convenience, the ACCC said.

But the companies have protested in the high court that they should not have to produce

ACCC commissioner Allan Fels said such practices may be widespread.

"A publican bought a licence. This publican knew he'd face a wall of objections and
lengthy delay," Professor Fels told ABC radio.

"This person allegedly was offered, well we'll withdraw the objections if you sign
this agreement with us not to compete.

"We might get a new hotel but we won't have a takeaway or, if we have a takeaway bottle
shop, we won't do home deliveries or we won't advertise certain sorts of services."

The ACCC did not normally name names but the case was made public because two parties
- Coles and Woolworths - challenged the ACCC in the high court, he said.

The companies said confirming the agreements existed would raise issues of legal professional
privilege, Prof Fels said.

An ACCC spokeswoman said the organisation did not believe the court action would pose
a problem for the investigation.

"We don't believe that we'll have a problem given we have had other 155s (orders) before,"

the spokeswoman said.

AAP lm/daw/ph/bwl


2001 AAP Information Services Pty Limited (AAP) or its Licensors.

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