Deal in cartel case
PARTIES in a class action alleging price-fixing and c a r t e l - l i k e b e h a v i o u r a g a i n s t c a r d b o a r d b o x giants Amcor Ltd and Visy Board Pty Ltd have reached a n ‘ ‘ i n - p r i n c i p l e a g r e e - ment’’, a court has heard.
L a w f i r m M a u r i c e Blackburn, on instructions from Jarra Creek Central Packing Shed Pty Ltd, is conducting a class action against the two companies.
They are seeking damages for customers who suffered l osses f rom Amcor and Visy’s alleged cartel behaviour in the cardboard box industry.
The six-week trial was due to begin in Sydney yesterday, but now looks unlikely to proceed.
Barrister Tony Bannon, SC, acti ng f or Maurice Blackburn, told the Federal Court late yesterday the parties had reached an ‘‘ inprinciple agreement’’ and were working on documenting the deal.
Mr Bannon asked t he c o u r t t o r e c o n v e n e t o - morrow, when the parties would report progress.
F o r m e r A m c o r c h i e f executive Russell Jones and former Amcor Australasia managing director Peter Brown were slated to give evidence on the first day of the trial.
But not long after the court was in session, Mr B a n n o n r e q u e s t e d a 30-minute adjournment for talks between the parties.
The adjournment was ex- tended to 12.30pm, then through lunch as the parties continued last-minute discussions.
When the court reconvened just after 2.15pm, Mr Bannon asked for a further extension, telling Justice Peter Jacobson the time so f a r h a d b e e n s p e n t productively.
Mr Bannon later told the court of the in-principle agreement and asked the case be held over until tomorr o w a s t h e p a r t i e s worked to write up the deal.
The class action, filed in April 2006, sought damages for customers that suffered losses as a consequence of Amcor and Visy’s actions.
It alleged that between January and April 2000, Amcor and Visy entered into a cartel to fix corrugated fibreboard packaging prices and reduce competition for each other’s customers.
Amcor’ s h a l f - y e a r a c - counts, released in February, showed the amount being claimed against it in the class action was $ 321 million, including interest.
S e p a r a t e l y , t h e l a t e businessman Richard Pratt and his Visy group of companies in 2007 said they’d manipulated the cardboard market through price fixing and market-sharing in contravention of the Trade Practices Act with its rival, Amcor.
The Federal Court fined Visy $ 36 million, the largest fine in Australian history.
PACKING IT IN : An agreement has been reached in a class action involving Amcor and Visy