Navman fined $1.36 million for price fixing

By James Wells

SYDNEY: Navman has received fines totaling $1.36 million by the Federal Court concerning conduct related to resale price maintenance.

The Court also imposed further penalties of $80,000 and $30,000 on two employees of the Australian subsidiary – its former director Christopher Baird and former Australian sales manager David King.

The fines came a year after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) instituted proceedings against Navman and alleged the company, now trading as AusHoldco, and its employees had engaged in resale price maintenance, prohibited under section 48 of the Trade Practices Act.

In the judgment, Justice Jacobson said: "The details of the contraventions show that Navman’s conduct was not merely deliberate. It was pursued in an aggressive and high-handed way by the company’s most senior managers."

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel said the conduct was, “a case of deliberate systemic conduct occurring over several years.”

"The size of this penalty is indicative of the seriousness with which resale price maintenance is viewed by the Federal Court and the ACCC,” he said.

"When buying items such as GPS and other electronic goods, consumers like to shop around (including over the internet) in order to get the best deal. This encourages businesses to compete on price and, by taking advantage of this competition, enables consumers to buy at lower prices.

"Price competition is fundamental to competitive markets and this behaviour does nothing but fetter this competitive process.

Samuel said the verdict should come as a warning to others in the GPS market and suppliers generally that such actions meant a significant risk of breaching the Trade Practices Act, for which the penalty could be severe.

The penalty is one of the highest yet for resale price maintenance conduct and follows the record $3.4 million penalties against the Jurlique cosmetics companies in February this year, also for resale price maintenance.

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