Blackstone silk seals small victory for Tesco ahead of CAT hearing

Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC has helped Tesco rebut an OFT request for cheese-pricing information in the build up to a major appeal.

Dinah Rose QC
Dinah Rose QC

Next month sees Tesco appear before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to appeal a £10m fine issued last July by the OFT for the supermarket giant’s role in fixing the price of cheese between 2002 and 2003 (12 August 2011).

The watchdog, which was represented by Stephen Morris QC and Josephine Davies of 20 Essex Street and Kassie Smith of Monckton Chambers on the instruction of general counsel Frances Barr, had applied to the CAT to access Tesco’s records of interviews with its solicitors relating to the dairy-fixing probe.

Its legal team wanted to see documents that it considered relevant to the liability issues ahead of the appeal hearing.

But tribunal chairman Lord Carlile QC found in favour of Tesco and ruled against disclosure of the transcripts, saying the company had not waived its right to privilege.

Blackstone’s Rose, who led Maya Lester and Daniel Piccinin of Brick Court Chambers, successfully acted for Tesco after being instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Deirdre Trapp.

Last year Tesco was fined for its role as one of nine companies that the watchdog judged to have colluded to rig the price of cheddar cheese and milk in 2002 and 2003.

The company promised to defend itself ’vigorously’ against the ruling and that separate appeal will be heard by the CAT next month.