Neutral citation:

[2007] CAT 24


27 Jul 2007



Judgment on an application by Co-operative Group (CWS) Limited (“CGL”) for judicial review of a decision of the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) refusing to approve Southern Co-operatives Limited (“Southern”) as a purchaser of funeral businesses that CGL had agreed to divest pursuant to undertakings accepted by the OFT in lieu of referring CGL’s acquisition of Fairways Group UK Limited to the Competition Commission.

The Tribunal held that the OFT did not act outside its powers by refusing to approve Southern.

The Tribunal further held that the OFT had not acted unreasonably in (a) finding that a divestment to Southern would not fully address its competition concerns; and (b) rejecting CGL’s “firewall” proposal regarding the withholding of all information relating to CGL’s funeral business from Southern’s chief executive (who was also a director of CGL).

The Tribunal concluded that, on the particular facts of this case, it was well within the OFT’s margin of assessment for it to refuse to approve Southern as a purchaser of the businesses identified for divestment and that the application should be dismissed.

This is an unofficial summary prepared by the Registry of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.