Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

Rooibos Limited, which controls 70% of the global rooibos tea market, could face class action by other local processors if it is found guilty of abusing its market dominance, says Nick Altini, a competition lawyer with Baker McKenzie. Altini said if Rooibos Limited admitted a contravention of the Competition Act and settled with the Competition Commission, other local processors could launch damages claims against Rooibos Limited. Although the commission has successfully prosecuted many cases of anticompetitive conduct, the opportunities for class action have been limited as companies were prepared to pay settlement fines, but not admit guilt. Just last week, Bidvest paid a R2m settlement agreement with the commission in a case involving acquisition of control of Adcock Ingram before Bidvest had received approval from the competition authorities. Air Travel Bidvest paid the fine, but did not admit guilt. Altini said one of the country’s most prominent cases of abuse of dominance inv...

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