Australian court orders $20.6million penalties against Cement Australia companies

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that the Full Court of the Federal Court has upheld an ACCC appeal, and dismissed a cross appeal by Cement Australia, against the penalties imposed on Cement Australia Pty Ltd and its related companies for making and giving effect to anti-competitive agreements.

The trial judge had imposed penalties of A$17.1 million against the Cement Australia companies. The Full Court has now ordered these companies to pay increased penalties totalling A$20.6 million for breaching the anti-competitive provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 . This is the third highest total penalty imposed for an ACCC case.

The penalties imposed on each Cement Australia company were:
  • A$2.93 million against Pozzolanic Enterprises Pty Ltd
  • A$10.28 million against Cement Australia (Queensland Pty Ltd) (formerly QCL)
  • A$7.29 million against Cement Australia Pty Ltd
  • A$100,000 against Pozzolanic Industries.

The Full Court upheld the ACCC's ground of appeal that related to the imposition of a single penalty, jointly and severally, on two respondent companies involved in one contravention. In upholding this ground, the Full Court confirmed that "[d]eterrence is the primary objective for the imposition of civil penalties", and considered "that the imposition of a joint and several penalty would risk undermining this objective".

Findlaw

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