Tribunal won’t dismiss panel beating cartel case
A company accused of involvement in a panel beating cartel has failed in its bid for the long-running case to be dismissed by the Competition Tribunal.
In dismissing Precision and Sons’ application today, the Tribunal has indicated that hearing dates for the main matter are to be decided on an urgent basis. Reasons for the Tribunal’s decision will follow in due course.
Precision and Sons (Pty) Ltd, an accused in the matter, brought a dismissal application last week on grounds that the hearing of the matter had been unreasonably delayed through the Competition Commission’s failure to secure its sole witness to give oral evidence.
The company, through its lawyer, argued that it had not been in the public interest for justice to be delayed that long.
The matter was originally set down for hearing from 27-31 March 2017. However, proceedings had been postponed on several occasions as the Commission’s witness – a Zimbabwean asylum seeker now living in America – experienced difficulties in traveling to the Pretoria hearing because his travel documents did not comply with South Africa’s entry requirements.
The man is believed to be a crucial factual witness for the Commission as he is the only person who may be able to explain how the alleged cartel operated. He had previously worked for one of the companies implicated in the case.
Precision and Sons, during the dismissal application, accused the Commission of unprofessional and improper conduct and argued that the delay in finalising the matter has resulted in significant reputational harm and financial and trial prejudice to the company.
The Commission, on the other hand, argued that the unforeseen delay in securing the witness’ travel documents was not its fault but was due to internal processes of the US Government. It contended that the public interest requires the main matter to be adjudicated to either confirm the Commission’s case or to exonerate the accused companies.
The Commission had also indicated that the witness was ready and able to travel to South Africa to give oral evidence in the matter.
Gillian de Gouveia
Tel: +27 (0) 12 394 1383
Cell: +27 (0) 82 410 1195
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