Dickinson Dees is expected to make an appeal on behalf of client Arriva against a £203,632 fine from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for breaking competition law by deciding to share certain bus routes with FirstGroup
FirstGroup, advised by Burges Salmon, was fined £529,852, but the OFT decided that the bus firm would not have to pay the fine on the grounds that it "asked for leniency first and at an early stage of the investigation". Arriva also benefited from the OFT's leniency programme, but only to the extent of a 36 per cent reduction. The bulk of its fine is made up of a deterrent sum. Any appeal brought by Dickinson Dees on behalf of Arriva is likely to question how this sum was calculated and how the OFT arrived at the 100 per cent reduction for FirstGroup. Dickinson Dees partner Neil Warwick, who is leading the team for Arriva, said: "We can't comment because we don't want to prejudice our position regarding an appeal." But he added: "This has been a sharp learning curve for everyone involved, including the OFT." This is the first infringement decision concerning an anticompetitive agreement made by the OFT under the Competition Act 1998, which came into force in 2000. The Burges Salmon team was led by the firm's head of competition Laura Claydon. Claydon said: "The leniency programme aspect was interesting. It's just a very difficult decision for any client to have to make. In dealing with the case, the competition unit at Burges Salmon has gained unique experience of the OFT's approach in these circumstances."