Top silks fail to help Argos and Littlewoods

Argos and Littlewoods lost out in their appeal against the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) ruling in the toys and games price-fixing case despite drafting in top-rate competition silks from Brick Court Chambers.

The Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) upheld the OFT’s decision to fine Argos £17.3m and Littlewoods £5.4m.

Littlewoods, advised by DLA partner Martin Rees, turned to Nick Green QC and Marie Demetriou.

Argos was advised by Burges Salmon partner Andrij Jurkiw, who brought the client with him from Pinsents when he moved in 2003. Jurkiw turned to Brick Court’s Mark Brearley QC and Mark Hoskins.

The OFT used Fountain Court’s Brian Doctor QC and Monckton Chambers junior Kassie Smith. OFT chairman John Vickers said the OFT’s prosecution of Argos and Littlewoods was responsible for a significant fall in the price of games.

Vickers cited the price of a Monopoly game – which has fallen by more than four pounds in Argos and Littlewoods since the OFT brought the case in 2001 – as evidence of this trend.

The CAT decision follows the OFT’s October victory in the football shirts price-rigging case, which was also appealed. Hasbro blew the whistle and received 100 per cent leniency for its pains. Hasbro was advised by Denton Wilde Sapte partner Jonathan Tatten.

In December Argos was considering an appeal. Insiders say it is unlikely that Littlewoods, which is owned by the Barclay brothers, will appeal.