Argos and Littlewoods have had their penalties for toy price fixing decreased
slightly on appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but the court did not
uphold their claims to further lenient treatment.
In 2003 the OFT found that Hasbro, Argos and Littlewoods had infringed the
Chapter 1 prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 by price fixing of certain
toys and games. The OFT imposed a penalty of £17.28 million on Argos
and £5.37 million on Littlewoods. No penalty was imposed on Hasbro who
received 100 per cent leniency.
On 29 April the Competition Appeal Tribunal gave judgement on the amount of
penalty in the appeals by Argos and Littlewoods. Both undertakings had submitted
that the penalties were too heavy and unfair in light of Hasbro receiving full
The Tribunal rejected their pleadings, holding that their conduct did not
entitled them to a mitigation of penalty. If a company accepts responsibility
for an infringement and takes steps to make reparations for the harm suffered,
it may be entitled to a mitigation of penalty. In this case however, Argos
and Littlewoods contested the allegations against them to the fullest extent.
The tribunal did nevertheless reduced the penalties on Argos and Littlewoods
to £15 million and £4.50 million respectively, on the technical
ground that the OFT's method of calculation may have given rise to penalties
that were slightly too high. It stated that these were the lowest penalties
which could reasonably be justified in the circumstances considering the gravity
of the case.