Judgment of the Tribunal in relation to an appeal against a decision of the Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”) entitled “Online sales ban in the golf equipment sector”, issued on 24 August 2017 and addressed to Ping Europe Limited (“Ping”) (the “Decision”).
In the Decision the CMA found that Ping, a manufacturer of golf clubs, golf accessories and clothing, had infringed the prohibition in Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by entering into agreements with two UK retailers containing clauses prohibiting those retailers from selling Ping golf clubs online. The Decision found that those agreements restricted competition by object and did not benefit from any exclusion or exemption. The Decision directed Ping to bring the alleged infringements to an end and imposed a fine of £1.45 million.
Ping filed a notice of appeal on 25 October 2017 contesting both the finding of infringement and the imposition and amount of the penalty.
In summary, for the reasons given in the judgment, the Tribunal upheld the CMA’s finding that Ping had infringed the Chapter I Prohibition and Article 101 TFEU. Specifically, the Tribunal:
- dismissed Ping’s arguments that the Decision infringed its Human Rights (Section E of the Judgment).
- upheld the CMA’s finding that the ban on internet selling within the agreements constituted a restriction of competition ‘by object’ (Section F of the Judgment).
- dismissed Ping’s arguments that the CMA had erred in finding that the ban on internet selling was disproportionate, was not objectively justified, did not constitute an ancillary restraint, and did not benefit from an individual exemption (Sections G - J of the Judgment).
With regards to penalty, the Tribunal concluded that the CMA had erred on the facts of this case in treating director involvement as an ‘aggravating factor’. The Tribunal went on to decide that the penalty should be fixed at £1.25 million, a reduction of £200,000 (Section L of the Judgment).
This is an unofficial summary prepared by the Registry of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.