Veljanovski gives evidence to House of Lord’s Communications C’tee hearings on public service broadcasting
The above is an excerpt from the full hearing.
Merricks wins appeal against CAT’s refusal to certify its collective action against MasterCard
In a landmark judgment delivered on 16 April 2019 the English Court of Appeal set aside the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s (CAT) order refusing certification of the class representative Mr Merricks’ £14 billion damages claim against MasterCard for charging excessive interchange fees. Mr Merricks’ collective proceeding order (CPO) application was remitted to the CAT to be reheard, but given the judgment there is no reason why it will not be granted.
The decision vindicates the approach of Mr Merricks’ legal team and the methodology set out in the expert report of Cento Veljanovski (Case Associates) and David Dearman (Mazars). The Court of Appeal confirms what was a straightforward and reasonable reading of the CAT rules on certification, and gives clarity and certainty to the certification procedure.
Case are very pleased to have successfully assisted Mr Merricks and his legal team (Ouinn Emanuel) with economic expert evidence.
Impact of cigarette health warnings
Case completed several econometric studies of impact on cigarette sales of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs in Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil and Mexico. Using panel regression and timeseries analyses these found no statistical evidence that these packaging regulations reduced cigarette sales.
Electronics cartel damages settled
A claim for overcharge damages was successfully settled through mediation against a member of an electronics cartel operating within the EU. Case undertook an econometric estimate of the overcharges for a range of products, and estimated damages plus interest for the 40 plus indirect purchasers.
Landmark UK collective action against MasterCard
Cento Veljanovski was expert in the landmark consumer collective action Walter Merricks v. MasterCard. The collective proceedings order (CPO) application before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) was only the second under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Merricks is the largest damage claim in UK legal history made on behalf of over 42 million individuals claiming damages of £14 billion (US$18.2 billion). This is a follow-on action arising from the European Commission’s MasterCard decision of 2007 which found that MasterCard had set excessive default interchange fees. The CAT refused certification, and the class representative has successfully appealed (see above).
Impact of plain packaging of cigarettes in Turkey
Case completed a study on the prospective impact of the introduction of plain packaging regulation in Turkey. The study forecast the likely effects of plain packing on cigarette sales, tax revenues and counterfeit cigarette activity.
Case assisted a claimant with a preliminary quantification of overcharge damages in a follow-on action against a member of the EU Polyurethane Foam cartel (COMP AT. 39.83).
Case successfully assists UK independent TV programme producers
Case’s report Competitive Assessment of the Independent Programme Sector commissioned by Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) was submitted to Ofcom’s review of the Terms of Trade (ToT) for commissioning of independent TV programmes. Case found that the UK TV programme production market was not effectively competitive and dominated by the three public service broadcasters (PSBs). It concluded that the ToT should remain to offset the market power of the PSBs. The UK Government agreed with the Case’s conclusions by retaining the ToT but also required the BBC open-up its TV programme commissioning to independent producers. This was a significant result for the client, well beyond its expectations.
“debanking” MTOs in New Zealand
Cento Veljanovski acted as expert in the New Zealand High Court for a money transfer organisation (MTO) threaten with the closure of its account by Kiwibank as part of its “derisking” in response to anti-money laundering regulations (the AML/CFT Act). Cento participated in a hot tub giving evidence that the actions of the banks in closing MTO accounts had the “effect” of substantially lessening competition (SLC) under section 27(2) of the Commerce Act 1986. While the court (E-Trans v. Kiwibank) accepted his evidence, it concluded that legally it could only consider the closure of the one bank account, and not the other 100 closed being closed by Kiwibank, and therefore the defendant’s action did not SLC.
Prime broker market
Case provided an assessment of whether a prime broker’s action to terminate a hedge fund’s account was an abuse of dominance.
Margin squeeze in rail ticketing
Case undertook an economic assessment of whether UK train operators had engaged in an illegal margin squeeze through the commission rates they set for advance ticket sales to third party online ticketing agents.
Challenge to Lithuanian Competition Council’s Art 101 decision
Cento Veljanovski filed an expert report on behalf of G4S in support of an action challenging the Lithuanian Competition Council’s Resolution that G4S had infringed Article 101(1) in the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, and in a follow-on damage claim in the Vilnius County Court.
Case assists airline in predation case
Case assisted the owners of a Lithuanian airline, represented by Motieka & Audzevicius by providing independent estimates of damages caused by another airlines predatory conduct in proceedings before the Vilnius District Court.
MVNO access price controls in Oman
Case assisted Connect Arabi/“FRiENDi mobile”, part of the Virgin Mobile Group, to respond to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) consultations on proposed new access terms and price regulation for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Oman.
Irish GPs in High Court
Case assisted the Irish Medical Organization (IMO), represent by O’Connor (Dublin), who was prosecution by the Irish Competition Authority for an alleged a breach of Art 101. Dr Cento Veljanovski filed an expert report which examined the operation of the Irish medical services market and the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme. The case settled after the first week of proceedings in the High Court (Dublin) with the Competition Authority removing its ban on the IMO and Health Minister discussing GP fees, which was the underlying cause of the dispute.
Brunei communications’ licence fees
Case in collaboration with Rajah & Tann (Singapore) advised Brunei’s communications regulator (AiTi) on fees for the new converged communications licenses.
Stansted airport cargo services escape regulation
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) removed its regulation of passenger services at Stansted airport and also found that the airport operator did not have Significant Market Power (SMP) in the supply of air freight services. Case worked with Hogan Lovells on submissions for the Manchester Airport Group (the owners of Stansted airport) to the CAA which ended 25 years of the regulation of passenger services at Stansted.
Judicial review of LME warehouse contract changes
Dr Veljanovski was expert for the London Metal Exchange (LME) as part of its defence to a judicial review action launched by Rusal (the world’s largest aluminum producer) challenging the LME’s changes to metal warehouse contract terms designed to reduce the massive backlog of metal deliveries from LME authorized warehouses. Judgment was given against the LME but later reversed on appeal.