Computicket fails to quash anti-competitive complaint

Johannesburg - South Africa’s Competition Tribunal has dismissed ticketing firm Computicket’s bid to set aside a 2008 anti-competitive complaint brought against it by rivals.

In 2008, the Competition Commission received complaints from Strictly Tickets, Artslink, Going Places, TicketSpace and Ezimidlalo Technologies about Computicket.

The companies, which consolidated their complaints into a single case, accused Computicket of securing exclusive agreements with entertainment providers.

The Competition Commission then referred the case to the Competition Tribunal in April 2010.

The Commission, at the time, found that Computicket had a market share of 95% and dominated outsourced ticketing services for entertainment events, according to reports.

The Commission subsequently wanted the Tribunal to levy an administrative penalty of 10% on Computicket's 2009 turnover. It also wanted the Tribunal to declare void Computicket's exclusivity clauses in its contracts.

However, Computicket challenged the complaint by submitting a review application based on two main arguments: Whether the complaint should have been brought by the Commissioner or the Commission, and whether the decision-makers applied their minds to the matter of referral.

Computicket said the decision-makers based their decision on the investigation report, rather than all the documents at their disposal.

But the ticketing company has failed to have the complaint set aside, the Tribunal announced on Friday.

“Computicket’s application to have a complaint brought against it by the Competition Commission for anti-competitive behaviour reviewed and set aside was dismissed on Friday, 21 October, by the Competition Tribunal,” said a statement from the Tribunal.

“The review application follows a lengthy history of prior litigation between Computicket and the Commission relating to whether Computicket was entitled to certain documents in the Commission’s possession.

“The litigation was settled, with Computicket receiving the documents it required. Both grounds for review were dismissed by the Tribunal,” said the Tribunal.

The Tribunal further said that parties were too eager to use reviews instead of defending themselves at a trial.

“A review is decided on papers. A hearing is not; it involves inter alia, the hearing of…testimony, cross examination and full discovery,” said the Tribunal.

“The hearing is therefore the superior process for resolving disputes of fact, and conclusions that inevitably arise in Competition matters,” the Tribunal added.

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