Update: Computicket to appeal R20 million penalty

The Competition Tribunal, which adjudicates cases of anticompetitive behaviour, ruled on Monday that Computicket pay a R20m administrative penalty for abuse of dominance between 2005 and 2011.

In a media statement the Tribunal said the decision followed protracted litigation and an earlier investigation by the Competition Commission into the ticket seller's use of "long-term exclusive agreements to exclude new entrants from the outsourced ticket distribution market".

In a 61-page order published on Monday, the Tribunal found that on the basis of evidence there was "sufficient evidence to suggest that the exclusive agreements had resulted in anticompetitive effects".

The Tribunal also found that between 2006 and 2009 "there was evidence of threats made by Computicket personnel to enforce its exclusivity".

Computicket, which was acquired by Shoprite in November 2005, said it would appeal the Competition Tribunal’s finding.

"[Computicket] has studied the Tribunal’s decision and in terms of Competition Act, it has 15 business days to file its Notice of Appeal against the Tribunal’s decision which it intends to do," it said in a statement on Monday at noon.  

As the Tribunal noted in its ruling, Computicket had denied that its contracts had an exclusionary effect. "Instead, it argued that customers preferred to use its services and that exclusive contracts were also a means to mitigate against reputational risk."

10-year investigation 

The matter dates back to February 2008, when a number of Computicket rivals started approaching the Commission to complain about Computicket's dominance. 

The Commission, a statutory body that investigates uncompetitive behaviour, consolidated the complaints and referred the matter to the Tribunal for prosecution in April 2010.

The Tribunal adjudicates cases and hears appeals.

"The hearing in this matter started more than seven years later, in October 2017. The long delay is attributed to a lengthy and litigious history between the parties over discovery of documents, followed by an unsuccessful administrative law challenge to the Commissioner’s decision to refer the complaint," said the Tribunal. 

* This article was updated at 13:10 on Monday January 21 to include a response by Computicket. 

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