Freshfields and Blackstone fight Tesco’s OFT price-fixing fine

A Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) hearing is underway to decide whether Tesco must pay a £10m OFT fine for fixing the price of cheese.


Dinah Rose QC
Dinah Rose QC

Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC, leading Maya Lester and Daniel Piccinin of Brick Court Chambers, is representing the supermarket giant, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Deirdre Trapp.

Stephen Morris QC and Josephine Davies of 20 Essex Street and Kassie Smith of Monckton Chambers are acting for the OFT, which ruled that Tesco and eight other companies colluded to rig the price of cheddar cheese and milk in 2002 and 2003. They are instructed by the watchdog’s general counsel Frances Barr.

Deirdre Trapp
Deirdre Trapp

In the build-up to the CAT hearing, Rose notched up a small victory by fending off the OFT’s request for disclosure of the grocery retailer’s interviews with its solicitors relating to the dairy-fixing probe (23 March 2012).

Tribunal chairman Lord Carlile QC is now hearing arguments from both sides. Tesco had pledged to defend itself “vigorously” and said it “reacted with surprise and dismay” following last year’s verdict that it colluded with suppliers and other retailers (12 August 2011). It followed the OFT’s longest-running collusion investigation.

For Freshfields, litigation partner Paul Lomas has also advised, alongside senior associate Dan Burton and associate Mary Wilks, both in the competition team.

The tribunal runs for three weeks.