NZ price fix ruling to proceed

IT has been a three-month wait, and now New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has won the right to proceed with its trial against an alleged cargo price-fixing cartel in the country.

The accused airlines claimed immunity, arguing that the competition for inbound cargo occurred overseas and not in New Zealand – theoretically outside the Commission’s jurisdiction.

The High Court said it wants to hear the Commission’s case in full, saying that part of the offences took place in New Zealand. The arrival and handling of cargo in NZ, and the demand for cargo shipments from domestic importers, were key factors in the court’s ruling.

The court rejected the airlines’ argument that competition between the airlines stopped at the moment the cargo contracts were entered into at ports of origin.

“The Commission’s case is based on its concern that customers affected by price-fixing of inbound cargo are located here, and the airlines’ arguments would have meant that they would not be required to respond to our case in a New Zealand court,” Mary-Anne Borrowdale, general counsel competition at the Commerce Commission, said.

The trial can now proceed to its next phase when the commission will allege that the defending airlines agreed to fix the prices of both inbound and outbound air cargo services.

Defending airlines include Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines and Korean Air Lines.

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