Goodyear and Continental lose traction in complaint about price-fixing
The Competition Tribunal has rejected applications by Goodyear SA and Continental Tyre SA for portions of a Competition Commission complaint referral to be set aside in a price-fixing complaint.
In 2010 the commission referred a complaint to the tribunal against four tyre manufacturers — Goodyear, Continental, Apollo Tyres SA and Bridgestone SA — and also industry body the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC).
The referral was sparked by a complaint lodged to the commission in October 2006 by Parsons Transport. The commission’s referral implicated Continental and Goodyear in SA in the fixing of prices of passenger, light truck, bus, off-road, agricultural and earthmoving tyres in the period between 1999 and 2007.
It is alleged the two companies, as well as Apollo Tyres and Bridgestone in SA, agreed to fix prices through the SATMC.
Since the commission’s referral, various interlocutory applications have taken place. These have resulted in Goodyear, Continental and SATMC only filing their respective answering affidavits to the main matter in 2016.
In its application, Continental had questioned whether complainant Parsons Transport had validly authorised all the extensions received by the commission during its investigation.
The tribunal found the Competition Act did not stipulate that an agreement to extend should be reduced to writing, and that it had become a practice by the commission that it requested extensions from complainants by first obtaining these verbally and then submitting them in writing.
Goodyear and Continental had also alleged that the referral against them was lodged out of time. But the tribunal held that documents could be accepted within or outside office hours of the tribunal.
The tribunal will hear discovery applications on June 13 from Continental and Goodyear that again seek documents from the commission. A new timetable is also to be agreed on for when the main matter will be heard.
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