THE Federal Court has awarded 4500 Australian businesses $95 million plus costs in a Amcor Visy class action settlement.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn, which worked for the claimants in the action, today celebrate the win, saying its a significant day for "the victims of Amcor and Visy's price fixing and market rigging conduct".
Today’s Federal Court hearing outlining the settlement in Amcor Visy class action is a very significant day for the many thousands of victims of Amcor and Visy’s price fixing and market rigging conduct.
The costs are subject to court approval, and will be paid by Amcor, which will also pay two thirds ($63.3m) of the damages. This includes damages of $37.7m plus interest of $25.6 million. Visy will pay one third ($31.7m). Final court approval is expected to take six to eight weeks.
Maurice Blackburn chairman Bernard Murphy said the litigation was "enormous, very complex, [and] hotly contested".
“The settlement sends a strong message to corporate Australia – obey the law, respect corporate governance standards or you will be forced to pay compensation," Murphy said.
This is the biggest payout for victims of a price-fixing cartel in Australia’s history.
"It is more than three times the size of the 2006, $30.6 million settlement in the Vitamins class action that Maurice Blackburn also conducted. It is also nearly triple the total fine that the ACCC imposed," said Murphy.
“This class action was an extraordinarily hard fought, right up to the steps of the court. The case faced a number of procedural challenges, including battles with the ACCC to get documents given to it by Amcor, discovery fights that went on for years and, after spending millions on expert economists and accountants from around the world it became clear that there would be no agreement on what prices would have been in the hypothetical, competitive world of the complex cardboard box industry.
“The companies continued to deny their price-fixing conduct right up to the end, and said that even if we could prove it, that it did not have a far reaching effect, was not acted on by their sales executives, and negligible, if any losses, were suffered by its customers.
"They also stated that any customers who had suffered loss had passed on up to 90 per cent to their own customers and therefore had suffered no loss.