The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed, with costs, applications of both the Competition Commission of South Africa and Tracetec against Altech Netstar.
The ruling comes in the wake of a protracted legal battle between the Competition Commission and Altech Netstar following a complaint of anti-competitive behaviour by Tracetec against Altech Netstar in February 2005.
The alleged anti-competitive behaviour related to the period between 1999 and 2003 when Altech Netstar accepted the Vehicle Security Association’s (VESA) invitation to become a member of a VESA sub-committee which suggested minimum standards for vehicle tracking systems by insurance companies.
In April 2010 the Competition Tribunal issued a declaratory order that Altech Netstar had contravened the Competition Act. Altech Netstar subsequently appealed the ruling as it believed the Tribunal had erred on a number of its findings and that Altech Netstar had not contravened the Competition Act and was not guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.
In February 2011 the Competition Appeal Court set aside the Competition Tribunal’s finding and dismissed the finding with costs.
In April 2011 the Competition Commission took the ruling by the Competition Tribunal on appeal and approached the Supreme Court of Appeal. The application was subsequently dismissed with costs by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
According to Craig Venter, Altech CEO, the finding by the Supreme Court of Appeal supports Altech Netstar’s view that it was never in contravention of the Competition Act, nor did it engage in anti-competitive behaviour.
“From the outset, when Tracetec first lodged its complaint with the Competition Commission in 2005 and when the Commission Tribunal found Altech Netstar guilty of contravening the Competition Act in 2010, we have been of the opinion that the finding was flawed. Despite our subsequent successful appeal in the Competition Appeal Court of South Africa against the Competition Tribunal ruling and the Appeal Court setting aside the Tribunal’s findings, the Competition Commission insisted on taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal,” he said.
“The dismissal of the Competition Commission’s appeal by the judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal, with costs, vindicates our view that the Competition Commission was wrong and should never have continued with this wasteful and expensive process. The fact that several million rands in legal costs have been awarded in favour of Altech Netstar, after tax, is a clear indication of our innocence in this matter,” he concluded.
Altech Netstar’s Managing Director, Harry Louw, said: “We are pleased that this matter has finally been settled. Altech Netstar does not engage in anti-competitive practices and this decision ends the negative and erroneous perception that this long legal battle has caused to our good name. The ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa finally concludes this matter as there are no more avenues for the Competition Commission or Tracetec to explore.” — I-Net Bridge