Commerce Commission successful in all court actions
9 November 2000
The Commerce Commission's Annual Report, which has been tabled in Parliament, shows that the Commission has been successful in all 23 court actions decided in the last financial year.
"This is an excellent result," Commission Chair John Belgrave said, "that reflects the professionalism and commitment of all the staff and Commissioners. Historically, the Commission has been successful in about 95 percent of its court actions.
"However, while court action is usually our most visible work, it is the tip of the iceberg when compared to all the work we do.
"During the year we carried out 800 investigations, with a significant number ending in either enforcement action or adjudication decisions."
In addition to the 23 cases decided by the courts, the Commission ended a further 46 cases with settlements and 270 with warnings. That is a total of 339 enforcement actions under the Commerce and Fair Trading Acts.
It also made 36 adjudication decisions on applications for clearances, authorisation or exemptions under the Commerce and Electricity Industry Reform Acts. It approved 26 applications, approved three with conditions, declined five, one was withdrawn by the applicant and one was on hand at the end of the year.
"Looking ahead, the 2000-2001 financial year is likely to see the biggest changes in the Commission's responsibilities since its inception as a stand-alone agency in 1986," Mr Belgrave said.
"These changes include amendments to the existing law and new regulatory functions in electricity.
"I am confident that the staff and Commissioners will meet these new challenges with on-going professionalism and commitment."
Major cases during the 1999-2000 financial year included:
- The Auckland High Court ordered Caltex New Zealand Limited, Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited and Shell New Zealand Limited to pay penalties totalling $1.175 million and costs of $157,500 for price fixing by jointly removing a discount from the price of petrol in Auckland. The discount was a free car wash.
- The Auckland High Court ordered Carter Holt Harvey Building Products Group Limited to pay a penalty of $525,000 for using its dominant position to prevent or deter New Wool Products Limited from competing in the South Island insulation market. Carter Holt has appealed the decision.
- In a settlement with the Commission Aetna Health (NZ) Limited and Southern Cross Medical Care Society paid reimbursements of over $100,000 to policy holders and re-wrote the relevant health insurance policies. The Commission alleged the health insurers had misrepresented the pay-out amounts that policy holders would receive following various operations.
Media contact: Chair John Belgrave
Phone work (04) 498 0963, cellphone 021 650 045
Senior Advisor Communications Vincent Cholewa
Phone work (04) 498 0920