Burges Salmon helps reduce impact of OFT ruling for dairy client

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12 August 2011

Burges Salmon's competition team, led by partner Laura Claydon and supported by solicitor Marc Shrimpling, has advised major dairy processor, The Cheese Company, throughout the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) long-running investigation into the retail pricing of dairy products, drawing on its considerable experience of OFT investigations and of the dairy industry.  In particular, the firm worked closely with The Cheese Company in reaching an early resolution agreement with the OFT which thereby secured the processor a 35% reduction on the fine incurred, leading to it receiving by far the smallest individual fine of the eight parties on whom financial penalties totalling almost £50 million were imposed.

The result of a long-running investigation was announced this week (10.08.11) after the OFT concluded that four supermarkets (Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury and Tesco) and five dairy processors (Arla, Dairy Crest, McLelland, The Cheese Company and Wiseman) had infringed the Competition Act 1998 by co-ordinating price increases for certain dairy products in 2002 and/or 2003. It was concluded that this co-ordination was achieved by supermarkets indirectly exchanging retail pricing intentions with each other via the dairy processors - so called A-B-C or 'hub and spoke' information exchanges. Further details are available in the briefing OFT fines supermarkets and dairy processors almost £50 million.

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