CAT 14
24 May 2012
Judgment of the Tribunal in connection with an application by SRCL Limited (“Stericycle”) for review of a decision by the Competition Commission (“CC”) dated 21 March 2012 (“the Report”), which sets out the CC’s conclusions as regards the completed acquisition by Stericycle of Ecowaste Southwest Limited (“Ecowaste”).
For the reasons set out in the Judgment, the Tribunal dismissed Stericycle’s application. In particular, the Tribunal concluded that:
• There was no basis for impugning the procedure which the CC adopted to assess the appropriate remedy in this case or for concluding that the CC erred in the test that it applied. There was nothing in the CC’s procedure that suggests that the CC assumed that only full divestment would be an effective remedy or that it failed to give proper consideration to other options proposed. Nor does the Report indicate that the CC applied the wrong test by focusing on the counterfactual rather than on the substantial lessening of competition that the CC had identified.
• The CC did not act irrationally in rejecting a remedy proposed by Stericycle (described at paragraph 29 of the Judgment) (“Option 2”) as an effective alternative to full divestment. The CC was entitled to conclude that the purchaser would be a stronger competitor if all the main contracts with customers currently using the Avonmouth plant were included in the divestment package than it would be if Option 2 were accepted.
• There was no reason for the CC in this case to consider the costs of Option 2 as compared with full divestment, as the CC’s conclusion (which has not been undermined by Stericycle’s argument) was that Option 2 was not an effective alternative to full divestment.
• The CC’s decision to encourage Stericycle to proceed speedily with divestment by announcing the backstop of the appointment of a divestment trustee and sale without a minimum price was within its discretion.
This is an unofficial summary prepared by the Registry of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.