20 Mar 2009

Commission cleared to take cartel to court

5:07 pm on 20 March 2009

The Commerce Commission has clearance to pursue legal action against cartel operators who live overseas, as it seeks to crack-down on price fixing.

In a precedent setting case, the Court of Appeal has decided that foreigners who breach the Commerce Act can no longer hide behind their overseas residency to avoid the full force of the law.

The Court has upheld a High Court ruling in 2007 allowing the Commerce Commission to pursue legal action against three defendants in a wood chemicals cartel case who were living overseas when the price-fixing occured.

The cartel operated between 1998 to 2002. By then, the commission estimates it was worth $35 million.

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts competition and regulatory team leader Andy Matthews says the decision gives the commission more ammunition.

A full court hearing will now be held.