Saturday, 6 February 2010

OFT to reopen pubs inquiry

CAMRA -- the Campaign for Real Ale -- has reached an agreement with the Office of Fair Trading to stay its appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal challenging the OFT's initial response to the campaign's super-complaint in October 2009. CAMRA's appeal is now put on hold until 1 August this year to enable the OFT to consider further evidence of anti-competitive behaviour by the large pub-owning companies. The OFT will now conduct an open public consultation before reaching a final decision.
CAMRA's super complaint argued that anti-competitive practices are inflating beer prices in pubs by around 50 pence a pint, restricting consumer choice and leading to chronic under-investment in the nation's pubs.
The campaign's chief executive, Mike Benner, said: "We are delighted that the OFT has responded to our appeal by agreeing to conduct an open consultation and I will encourage all parties to use this opportunity to submit further evidence of anti-competitive practice. The consultation will lead to a new and final decision from the OFT."
Mike Benner added that he hoped the re-examination of the pubs market will lead to the OFT acting against anti-competitive behaviour in order to deliver a fair deal for consumers.
CAMRA's fund-raising appeal for the reform of the beer tie, which raised more than £8,000 since January, will be suspended during the consultation period. The funds will go towards CAMRA's legal fees. The campaign says it reserves the right to re-activate its appeal should it be dissatisfied with the OFT's final decision following the conultation.


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