Visy Paper Pty Ltd has been unsuccessful in its bid to reduce the size of penalties imposed on it by the Federal Court for a boycott attempt.
Visy’s appeal was dismissed with costs.
The Full Federal Court has confirmed penalties of $500,000 against Visy and penalties totalling $25,000 against two senior executives for trying to stop a rival waste paper collection company from taking Visy’s customers.
Those penalties were originally set by the trial court in November 2004. They flowed from the High Court’s finding in October 2003 that Visy attempted to contravene section 45 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 which deals with anti-competitive arrangements.
In an unanimous decision, the Full Court agreed with the trial Court that the penalty figures were fitting. In a joint judgment, Justices Allsop and Stone said: “In our view the appellants [Visy] have not identified any error made by his Honour in considering the evidence or any cogent reason why the findings made by his Honour should be disturbed in this appeal”.
“We are of the view that the circumstances of the contraventions as reflected in the Primary Judgment and the Penalty Judgment … warrant penalties of the amounts ordered”.
ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, said the penalties proved how seriously the ACCC considers attempts at collusion and how such conduct is condemned by the courts.
“The decision sends a clear warning to companies that if you flout competition law you can expect little sympathy from the regulator or the court”, he said.
“And the penalty may not be confined to the company – individuals who’ve played a part in the contravention can also be held to account. It is a timely reminder for the need for business to introduce effective compliance programs to remove the risk of unlawful activity”.