Furniture removal company appears before Competition Tribunal

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Competition Tribunal is this week hearing a case of collusion against furniture removal company Elliott Mobility, which is alleged to have colluded with other furniture removal companies with regards to tenders.

The hearing began on Tuesday and is expected to continue until Thursday at the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) Campus in Sunnyside, Tshwane.

The furniture removal company was referred to the Tribunal by the Competition Commission. The commission, which is an agency of the Department of Economic Development, is empowered to investigate, control and evaluate restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant positions and mergers in order to achieve equity and efficiency in the South African economy.

“The Competition Commission has referred a complaint to the Tribunal involving furniture removal company Elliott Mobility, which is alleged to have colluded with other furniture removal companies in 23 instances involving tenders issued by, among others, the Department of Defence, SAPS and Eskom,” said the Tribunal on Tuesday.

The commission said that in or about 2007 until at least 2012, furniture removal companies in a horizontal relationship entered into agreements, alternatively, a concerted practice to collude on tenders.

Elliott Mobility (formerly Elliott International) has denied concluding any agreements with furniture companies or exchanging cover prices. 

On 2 July 2014, the commission issued an invitation for Elliott to settle 54 instances of collusive tendering, which Elliot did not take up, denying it had engaged in conduct that contravened the Competition Act.

The commission subsequently linked Elliott to 23 instances of collusive tendering. Elliott is alleged to have colluded with JH Retief in respect of 20 furniture removal tenders and with Cape Express, in respect of three furniture removal tenders.

The prohibited practices are alleged to have taken place between, during or about 2008 to during or about 2010,

The tribunal said the commission seeks an order declaring that Elliott has contravened the Competition Act and that the company be liable for the payment of an administrative penalty equal to 10% of its annual turnover for each contravention.

The highest fine went to JH Retief Logistics, which had to pay R4.3 million for 3 487 instances of cover pricing. Cape Express Removals was fined R645 710 for 1 744 incidents. Meanwhile, Joel Transport was fined R150 582 for 12 offences and Reliable Removals R90 563 for six.

Del Transport was fined R210 415 and H&M Removals R196 364.15.

“The commission is appealing the fine issued to Stanley’s Removal by the tribunal. The tribunal ordered that Stanley’s Removals pay R450 000 for eight offences instead of the 10% per contravention, as recommended by the commission,” said the tribunal, which is charged with adjudicating competition matters, in accordance with the Competition Act.

The tribunal will also host hearings again from 26 to 29 September 2017. -

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