Sumption win for Competition Commission will force BAA to sell two airports

Brick Court Chambers’ Jonathan Sumption QC has won a major Court of Appeal (CoA) victory for the Competition Commission in a ruling that will force BAA to sell off two of its UK airports.

Jonathan Sumption
Jonathan Sumption

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, chairing a panel of three judges that included Lord Justices Jacob and Patten, overturned a decision given by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) that the Competition Commission was biased in its investigation into the airport operator (26 October 2009).

Herbert Smith partner Stephen Whisking instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Lord Pannick QC and Brick Court’s Mark Hoskins QC to lead the case for BAA.

Sumption, who led Ben Rayment of Monckton Chambers, was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor for the Competition Commission.

The CAT upheld the company’s argument that the report into BAA was biased because one of its external advisors was linked to a company that considered buying some of BAA’s assets.

However, Kay LJ said the adviser, Peter Moizer, had quit in March 2009 and was not involved in the final stages of the Commission’s investigation and therefore endorsed the Commission’s initial report. 

Ryanair had intervened in the case in support of the Competition Commission. Nabarro partner George Maling instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Daniel Jowell and Sarah Lowe to act for the airline.