Christmas windfall for business from the Amcor/Visy alleged cartel

14 December 2011
Over 1300 Australian businesses who were victims of alleged price fixing and cartel behaviour by Amcor and Visy will receive an early Christmas gift - $97million from the settlement of Australia's biggest price fixing legal claim.

National law firm Maurice Blackburn, which successfully ran the cartel action has finalised the distribution of money to qualifying businesses upon the completion of a rigorous settlement administration scheme.

Richard Ryan, Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate said:

"Participating group members have over the past week received payments totaling over $97m. Some larger businesses have received over $1 million and others smaller amounts reflecting the value of their claims as assessed by an independent economist. 

"The group members include businesses from many industries across Australia, including many struggling fruit and vegetable growers who have been badly affected by floods and Cyclone Yasi in the past year.

"The lawyers involved in this very complex case are pleased to be finalising the distribution of compensation at a time of year when businesses would welcome some extra money.  Maurice Blackburn secured this settlement with Amcor and Visy after six years of vigorously contested and enormously complex litigation."

Key Dates

Amcor/Visy cartel action

28 September 2004 - Five of Amcor's former executives leave Amcor and are alleged to have taken confidential information and pricing documents from Amcor to set up a rival firm.

10 November 2004 - Amcor sued former executives for breach of confidence and sought return of the documents.

22 November 2004 - Amcor informed the ACCC that it had evidence of a cartel in breach of the Trade Practices Act and it appeared to have engaged in cartel conduct.

21 December - ACCC commences legal action against three Visy companies and alleged cartel conduct. Amcor is granted immunity from prosecution.

April 2006 - Maurice Blackburn started a civil damages cartel action against corrugated cardboard box manufacturer, Amcor Limited, on behalf of thousands of Amcor and Visy customers.

Nov 2007 - ACCC and the Federal Court impose a fine on Visy of $36m. Visy's former chief executive Harry Debney, was fined $1.5 million. Former general manager Rod Carroll, was fined $500,000.

Federal Court judge Justice Heerey and former head of the ACCC Graham Samuel described the case as the most serious cartel case to be prosecuted in Australia

29 Nov 2007 - Initially against three Amcor companies only, the class action now seeks compensation directly from Visy also.  Following Visy's admissions, the Federal Court ordered that Visy be formally joined to the class action.

10 March 2011 - Federal Court approves settlement of the cartel action for $95m plus all costs.  Amcor pay two thirds ($63.3m). of the damages and costs and Visy one third ($31.7m).

Information on Maurice Blackburn's other cartel actions

The Vitamins cartel action was against multinational pharmaceutical companies Roche, BASF and Aventis for fixing prices of animal vitamins during the 1990s. The matter was settled in 2006.

Since 2007, the firm has also run the Air Cargo cartel action against seven international airlines.